Comparison of the SPI and SPEI as drought assessment tools in a semi-arid region: case of the Wadi Mekerra basin (northwest of Algeria)

Berhail S., KATİPOĞLU O. M.

Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00704-023-04601-2
  • Journal Name: Theoretical and Applied Climatology
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, PASCAL, Aqualine, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Artic & Antarctic Regions, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Environment Index, Geobase, Index Islamicus, INSPEC, Pollution Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: Bland and Altman plot, Climate change, Cohen’s kappa statistics, Degree of agreement, SPEI, SPI
  • Erzincan Binali Yildirim University Affiliated: Yes


The current research intends to compare the agreement level between the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), the former’s variant, at different timescales such as 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, and 24 months. This data was compiled from the Mekerra basin with the help of time series of rainfall and temperature data for 42 years from 1970 to 2011. The authors used Cohen’s kappa statistics and the Bland–Altman method to determine the test of agreement between SPI and SPEI. Furthermore, the innovative trend analysis (ITA) method was also employed to analyze the severe and extreme dry trends. The outcomes achieved from the Cohen’s kappa statistic revealed the presence of a significant level of agreement between the SPI and SPEI values across the timescales. Furthermore, the researchers observed a positive linear correlation (r > 0.75, p < 0.0001) between the ratings under study. The existence of a small mean difference between the Bland and Altman analyses confirmed the level of agreement between the analytical tools under consideration. In addition to these, the outcomes also infer that in case of the unavailability of the temperature data to conduct the SPEI. Therefore, it is acceptable to use the SPI as the current study found the presence of an acceptable degree of agreement between these two scales in the study location. The present study suggests utilizing various types of drought indices to evaluate the drought performance in a specific location or geographical area to make knowledge-driven decisions.