Essential Maintenance: All Authorea-powered sites will be offline 9am-10am EDT Tuesday 28 May
and 11pm-1am EDT Tuesday 28-Wednesday 29 May. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Aman Srivastava

and 1 more

An attempt has been made to quantitatively analyze different degrees of environmental drought events, given the limited scientific understanding of environmental droughts, which hinders practical assessment efforts. This study thus aims to rigorously develop and assess the applicability of a novel heuristic method in conjunction with creating an Environmental Drought Index \cite{Srivastava_2023}. The heuristic method evaluates the combined influences of drought duration and water shortage levels, providing crucial insights into the environmental flow requirements amidst climate change. The Minimum in-stream Flow Requirements (MFR) is first defined as the threshold value essential for sustaining the river basin's ecological functions, aligning with Tennant’s environmental flow concept. Establishing MFR enables a balance between water resource utilization and ecological preservation, fostering sustainable water management. To comprehensively assess the eco-status, the study defined the High Flow Season (HFS) and the Low Flow Season (LFS). Drought status is then determined by comparing MFR with observed streamflow rate, quantifying negative differences as environmental droughts. Drought Duration Length (DDL) and Water Shortage Level (WSL) are introduced as functions of environmental drought. DDL categorizes consecutive months into four classes: DDL 1 (1-3 months), DDL 2 (4-6 months), DDL 3 (7-12 months), and DDL 4 (>12 months). WSL is determined by the most significant water deficit observed during DDL, classified into four categories: WSL 1 (<40%), WSL 2 (40-60%), WSL 3 (60-80%), and WSL 4 (>80%). Integrating DDL and WSL yields an index classifying environmental drought events into slight, moderate, severe, and extreme levels. The index value is obtained by comparing DDL and WSL values and selecting the maximum. The study enhances the scientific rigor of environmental drought identification and analysis, contributing to understanding drought impacts and effective mitigation strategies.