Drought hazard assessment in the context of climate change for South Korea

Won Ho Nam, Michael J. Hayes, Mark D. Svoboda, Tsegaye Tadesse, Donald A. Wilhite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Drought has had large impacts on economies, societies and the environment, and could become even more disruptive given the context of climate change characterized by increasing temperature and more variable and extreme precipitation. Changes in the frequency, duration, and severity of droughts will have enormous impacts on the hydrological cycle, water management and agricultural production. Therefore, one major concern arising from climate change is its potential effects on water resources. Although South Korea has been experiencing serious drought and water scarcity issues in recent years, preparedness for potential changes in the frequency, severity and duration of drought disasters due to climate change effects has received only limited attention. It is important to detect changes in temporal trends of drought at the regional scale. This information will aid understanding the impacts of climate change and its subsequent effects on hydrology and agriculture. In this paper, we have addressed the question of how climate change might influence the impact of drought hazard by estimating the potential changes in temporal trends of drought in South Korea. We have assessed the temporal trends of future drought with drought indices (Standardized Precipitation Index [SPI], Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index [SPEI], and Self-Calibrating Palmer Drought Severity Index [SC-PDSI]) using past observed data (1981-2010) from 54 meteorological stations maintained by the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) and projected climate change scenarios (2011-2100) as depicted by the Representative Concentration Pathways models (RCPs). The drought hazard assessment was quantitatively evaluated by analyzing drought frequency, duration, severity and magnitude using the run theory method based on different timescales of the drought indices. The results demonstrated a significant increase of potential drought impacts in the future. Additionally, significant increases in the drought magnitude and severity were found at different time scales for each drought indicator. The results indicated that the temporal pattern of potential drought progression and recession across South Korea can be used for the development of proactive drought risk management and mitigation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-117
Number of pages12
JournalAgricultural Water Management
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • Drought characteristics
  • Drought hazard
  • Drought indices
  • Global climate model
  • South Korea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Drought hazard assessment in the context of climate change for South Korea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this