MAPPING REGIONAL DROUGHT VULNERABILITY: A CASE STUDY
Keywords: Drought, MCDM, Regional Assessment, Climate Variability, Vulnerability Maps, GIS
Abstract. Drought is among the natural disaster that causes damages and affects many people’s life in many part of the world including in Iran. Recently, some factors such as climate variability and the impact of climate change have influenced drought frequency and intensity in many parts of the world. Drought can be divided into four categories of meteorological, hydrological, agricultural and social-economic. In meteorological the important feature is lack of rainfall. In hydrological drought river flows and dam storage are considered. Lack of soil moisture is the key factor in agricultural droughts while in social-economic type of drought the relation between supply and demand and social-economic damages due to water deficiency is studied. While the first three types relates to the lack of some hydrological characteristics, social-economic type of drought is actually the consequence of other types expressed in monetary values. Many indices are used in assessing drought; each has its own advantages and disadvantages and can be used for specific types of drought. Therefore knowing the types of drought can provide a better understanding of shortages and their characteristics. Drought vulnerability is a concept which shows the likelihood of damages from hazard in a particular place by focusing on the system status prior to the disaster. Drought vulnerability has been viewed as a potential for losses in the region due to water deficiency at the time of drought. In this study the application of vulnerability concept in drought management in East Azarbaijan province in Iran is investigated by providing vulnerability maps which demonstrates spatial characteristics of drought vulnerability. In the first step, certain governing parameters in drought analysis such as precipitation, temperature, land use, topography, solar radiation and ground water elevation have been investigated in the region. They are described in details and calculated in suitable time series. Vulnerabilities are ranked in 5 intervals and for each parameter vulnerability maps are prepared in GIS environment. Selection of theses parameters are based on factors such as regional features and availability of data. Considering the fact that the aforementioned parameters have different level of importance in vulnerability maps, different weights are assigned to the parameters considering how critical each parameter is in the overall drought analysis. Expert's opinion is selected in assigning weights. A multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) framework is used to check the consistency of the provided information. Then the weighted maps are overlaid to find the overall vulnerability map. The map shows very low, low, medium, intense and very intense regional vulnerabilities. According to the results, the west part of East Azarbaijan province is the most vulnerable region to drought which is expected due to the vicinity of this part to Urumia Lake that has been lost most of its water during the last decades. The least vulnerable part seems to be the Eastern part of the province with longer lasting resources. Taking into consideration that Caspian Sea is near this part with high precipitation record, the outcome of this study is in line with the general expectations. The result of this study can be used for preparedness planning and for allocating resources for facing droughts in this region.