Meteorological and hydrological drought analysis and its impact on water quality and stream integrity

Subhasis Giri, Ashok Mishra, Zhen Zhang, Richard G. Lathrop, Ali O. Alnahit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rising temperature and shifting precipitation patterns due to climate change are likely to intensify droughts throughout the world. Understanding the drought characteristics of possible future scenarios under climate change requires verification of past drought events using appropriate drought indices. Consequently, this study investigates the application of two widely used drought indices, the standardized precipitation index (SPI) and standardized streamflow index (SSI), to characterize historical droughts, drought trends, and their impact on water quality and stream integrity for a selected study basin in New Jersey. Results indicated that both SPI and SSI were able to identify historical drought events, including three drought emergency periods and the most recent drought-watch periods. A significant positive meteorological drought was observed at the western side of the basin, whilst a significant positive hydrological drought was found in the eastern side. The average pollutant concentration of drought periods were lesser than non-drought periods due to reduction of different processes, such as erosion and transport of sediment and nutrients into rivers and streams, during drought periods as opposed to non-drought periods. The findings from this study will serve to bolster the ongoing efforts to formulate better drought management strategies for future climate change in the Raritan Basin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8175
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Drought severity
  • Mann–Kendall test
  • Sen’s slope
  • Standardized precipitation index
  • Standardized streamflow index
  • Stream integrity
  • Water quality
  • Welch’s test


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