Webinar Series 1: Module 5

05. Is this drought normal? How EO data can help you understand drought hazard and benchmark your risk


  • Markus Enenkel - Risk Consultant, Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Program, World Bank 
  • Mohamad Nobakht - Senior Earth Observation System Engineer, TELESPAZIO VEGA
  • Norman Kiesslich - Senior Project Manager, GeoVille

Date: 9 July 2020

You can download the webinar summary here




    Webinar aims

    Drought is one of the main natural causes of agricultural, economic, and environmental damage. The effects of drought on the environment and agriculture are evident after a long period with a shortage of precipitation, making it very difficult to determine the onset of drought, its extent and end. The EO time-series data sets can build understanding about the scale of effects associated with different drought impacts, helping to develop early food security assessments in specific geographic areas or contingency planning and emergency preparedness for future shocks in a country. It can also improve understanding of the drivers and causes of food insecurity in areas and identify which investments or risk management strategies are best.
    The aim of this webinar is to present how Earth Observation data with different spatial and temporal resolution can provide information on drought events.


    Webinar learning outcomes

    • To be informed of Cluster's Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), a well-known drought index that is calculated by precipitation and Potential Evapotranspiration (PET) data using ERA-5 data.
    • To learn about the satellte-based soil moisture measurements to interpret drought events
    • To learn about EO based, large scale early detection of droughts and their assessment through continuous monitoring using a combined drought indicator based on surface dryness, soil moisture anomalies (S1,S2,LS5-8), vegetation stress and degradation (fAPAR, NDVI, LAI, etc.).


    Webinar content

    • Introduction to the service
    • Introduction to Drought Indices including surface soil moisture data, indicating changes in moisture pattern and how they can be combined with trends and anomalies in rainfall and vegetation parameters
    • EO4SD-CR Standardised Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index products
    • Interpretation of SPEI and Validation
    • Introduce EO capabilities in the domain of drought detection and assessment
    • Showcase state-of-the-art drought monitoring solution using a combined drought indicator
    • Present drought service specs and application examples


    Difficulty level



    Prerequisites for the webinar

    • Basic knowledge of statistics and probability distributions
    • Basic knowledge of climate science and change
    • Basic knowledge of Earth Observation
    • Interest in large scale drought detection, assessment and mitigation


    Further readings and resources

    • EO4SD-CR Delivery_Document_SPEI_v1.0, Link.
    • Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) (2017): ERA5: Fifth generation of ECMWF atmospheric reanalyses of the global climate . Copernicus Climate Change Service Climate Data Store (CDS), date of access, Link.
    • Vicente-Serrano S.M., Santiago Beguería, Juan I. López-Moreno, (2010) A Multi-scalar drought index sensitive to global warming: The Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index - SPEI. Journal of Climate 23: 1696-1718.
    • SPEI Global Drought Monitor, Link. 
    • GeoVille's news item, Link.


    Presentation material

    Please download all presentations from the following, Link

    Recording of the webinar

    If you want to download the video, please click here.


    About the EO4SD Climate Resilience Cluster

    Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) is an ESA initiative that aims to increase the uptake of EO-based information in development operations at national and international levels. The EO4SD Climate Resilience Cluster aims to help development partners upgrade their tools and skills in order to accomplish their climate resilience obejctives.

    You can download the webinar summary here