Drought is a natural hazard that has a significant impact on the various aspects (i.e., economic, agricultural, environmental, and social). This study was carried out to evaluate drought severity and frequency during the growing season (April month) in Duhok Governorate (DUG), the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), for the period from 1998 through 2012 based on Landsat-based spectral indices. In this study, 15 mosaics assembled for 15 years consist of two scenes of Landsat time series, in a total of 30 TM and ETM+ images (WRS2: 170/34 & 170/35) acquired in 1998 to 2012. Annual precipitation data were collected from 18 meteorological stations distributed in the (DUG) for the study period. Drought status was investigated using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Modified Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index (MSAVI2), and Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI). The study results showed an increase in drought severity and frequency in the (DUG) during the fifty years, particularly in 2000 and 2008. Whereas, the NDVI-based vegetation cover area has been reduced by 21.5% and 50.2% in 2000 and 2008, respectively. Additionally, the lowest values of the MSAVI2 (0.012 and 0.266) occurred in 2000 and 2008. As a result, the percentage of the vegetation cover reduction was 14.0% and 23.9%, respectively. Moreover, drop-in precipitation averages have occurred in those two drought years 2000 and 2008, as well as a significant reduction in the vegetation cover. On the other side, the most significant shrinkage in Duhok Dam (DUD) was by 1.13, 1.44, and 1.36 km2 in 2007, 2008, and 2009. It can be concluded that there are increasing drought episodes in the last two decades, declining in the water body surface area, and decreasing the precipitation averages in DUG from 1998 through 2012.
Drought, Landsat, NDVI, MSAVI2, NDWI, Duhok
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