University of Oulu

Senatilleke U, Sirisena J, Gunathilake MB, Muttil N, Rathnayake U. Monitoring the Meteorological and Hydrological Droughts in the Largest River Basin (Mahaweli River) in Sri Lanka. Climate. 2023; 11(3):57.

Monitoring the meteorological and hydrological droughts in the largest river basin (Mahaweli River) in Sri Lanka

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Author: Senatilleke, Udara1; Sirisena, Jeewanthi2; Gunathilake, Miyuru B.3,4;
Organizations: 1Department of Construction Technology, Faculty of Technology, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, Kuliyapitiya 60200, Sri Lanka
2Climate Service Center Germany, 20095 Hamburg, Germany
3Hydrology and Aquatic Environment, Environment and Natural Resources, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy and Research, 1433 Ås, Norway
4Water, Energy, and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, Faculty of Technology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 8000, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
5Institute for Sustainable Industries & Liveable Cities, Victoria University, P.O. Box 14428, Melbourne, VIC 8001, Australia
6College of Engineering and Science, Victoria University, P.O. Box 14428, Melbourne, VIC 8001, Australia
7Department of Civil Engineering and Construction, Faculty of Engineering and Design, Atlantic Technological University, F91 YW50 Sligo, Ireland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-08-25


This study assessed the meteorological and hydrological droughts and their relationship over 30 years from 1985 to 2015 in the largest river basin (Mahaweli River Basin (MRB)) in Sri Lanka. Data from 14 rainfall, 5 temperature, and 5 streamflow stations in and near the MRB were used in the present study. Universal drought indices including Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and Standardized Precipitation–Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) were used to assess meteorological droughts. The Standardized Streamflow Index (SSI) was used in investigating hydrological droughts. Correlations between meteorological and hydrological droughts were obtained, annual variations were observed (in terms of SPI, SPEI, and SSI), and the spatial distributions of selected drought events were analyzed. Our results revealed that the highest correlation was found in long-term dry conditions in the wet zone. In addition, some negative correlations found showed the opposite behavior of correlations. Furthermore, in annual variations of droughts, extreme droughts were recorded in the dry zone as maximum values, while results were more prominent in the wet zone. In addition, the spatial distribution performed using SPI, SPEI, and SSI showed an extremely dry condition in 2004. Our findings are beneficial for policymaking and for the decision-makers in assessing meteorological and hydrological drought risks in the future.

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Series: Climate
ISSN: 2225-1154
ISSN-E: 2225-1154
ISSN-L: 2225-1154
Volume: 11
Issue: 3
Article number: 57
DOI: 10.3390/cli11030057
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
1171 Geosciences
Copyright information: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (