Climate-Catchment-Soil Control on Hydrological Droughts in Peninsular India

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Poulomi Ganguli, Bhupinderjeet Singh, Nagarjuna Nukala Reddy, Aparna Raut, Debasish Mishra, Bhabani Sankar Das


Most land surface system models and observational assessments ignore detailed soil characteristics while describing the drought attributes such as growth, duration, recovery, and the termination rate of the event. With the national-scale digital soil maps available for India, we assessed the climate-catchment-soil nexus using daily observed streamflow records from 98 sites in tropical rain-dominated catchments of peninsular India (8 - 25° N, 72 - 86° E). Results indicated that climate-catchment-soil properties may control hydrological drought attributes to the tune of 14-70%. While terrain features are dominant drivers for drought growth, contributing around 50% variability, soil attributes contribute ~71.5% variability in drought duration. Finally, soil and climatic factors together control the resilience and termination rate. The most relevant climate characteristics are potential evapotranspiration, soil moisture, rainfall, and temperature; temperature and soil moisture are dominant controls for streamflow drought resilience. Among different soil properties, soil organic carbon (SOC) stock could resist drought propagation, despite low-carbon soils across the Indian subcontinent. The findings highlight the need for accounting feedback among climate, soil, and topographical properties in catchment-scale drought propagations.



Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Mathematics, Risk Analysis


drought, streamflow, carbon, resilience, regionalization


Published: 2022-01-29 03:59


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Data Availability (Reason not available):
All the data used in this study are publicly available. The precipitation data is obtained from Global Precipitation Climatology Centre ( The monthly soil moisture data is obtained from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC; The monthly mean surface air temperature is obtained from the CPC Global land surface air temperature data ( The PET time series is obtained from the Climate Research Unit’s (CRU) version 4.04 database ( All data are available at a 0.5° spatial resolution in a monthly time scale. The shapefiles for the Indian river basins are obtained from the Global Streamflow Indices and Metadata Archive ( The digital elevation map to develop terrain features are derived from the 90 m SRTM DEM database ( The digital soil mapping for India was developed using an Indian soil legacy database that utilized archived data from various sources, such as the National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS&LUP; and other institution publications.