Namibia is a semi-arid country with erratic and unpredictable rainfall. Extreme weather patterns, such as floods and extensive droughts, have become more common in recent years, with strong impact on surface and ground water availability, rangeland and agricultural productivity, food security, and further land degradation, such as bush encroachment or soil erosion. The previous 10 years were characterized by a perennial drought that lasted from 2013 to 2016 and an extreme drought that occurred during the rainy season of 2018/2019, which was the driest in 90 years. In January 2021, however, rainfall totals doubled to tripled the norm. The paper compares five drought indices in order to identify, visualize, monitor, and better understand the nature, characteristics, and spatial-temporal patterns of drought in northern and central Namibia. Based on their sensitivity to vegetation greenness, land surface temperature, evapotranspiration, and precipitation, the indices allow for calculation, time series analysis, and cross-comparison. Droughts occur every year, but the intensity of the drought varies depending on the index type. It is concluded that a comparative analysis of multiple indices provides a better interpretation of drought than single parameter systems. Future research should include biophysical properties such as soil characteristics, soil moisture, and hydrology, as well as socioeconomic studies, in order to develop an integrated drought index for northern Namibia.
Key words: Remote sensing, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS), drought indices, time series analysis, climate reanalysis, Namibia.
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