Konstantinos Andreadis

Publication Date

Spring 2021


Drought can have devastating effects on regional water resources and agriculture, with an estimated US$96 billions of damages globally between 2005 and 2015. In the Lower Mekong Basin, the impacts of drought have been a major concern for local stakeholders as the region is the largest rice-producing area in the world. Few studies of long-term drought in the region have directly assessed the effects of land cover changes on both agricultural and hydrological drought. We used a suite of remote sensing data to assess drought characteristics in five countries of this region (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar) where traditional in-situ measurements are not generally available. In addition to satellite data, we used the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) macroscale hydrologic model to simulate drought and evaluate its variability with land cover change. The simulations had a relatively high spatial resolution of 5 km, which facilitated the identification of local patterns of land cover change and their relationship with drought characteristics such as severity, duration, and onset. Our results confirmed that 25% of land cover has changed in the region over the last two decades (2001 to present) by using MODIS observation data. Furthermore, our simulations of drought from 1980 onwards, have allowed us to explore the link between land cover change and hydrological characteristics. and found that drought characteristics in the Mekong River basin do not appear to be significantly affected by land cover change.