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GDO Analytical Report: Drought in Turkey - January 2021

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Executive summary

  • Parts of Turkey have been experiencing drought conditions, primarily centre-western regions and the east of the country. A below-average pattern of precipitation since mid-2019, and particularly the second half of 2020, determined a water deficit at the end of the 2020. As a result, GDO indicators show that soil moisture decreased markedly, and evidence of hydrological drought appeared. However, precipitation in January 2021 was abundant and has brought some relief over the affected regions.

  • Impacts of the drought are currently limited to agriculture. Reservoirs have dwindled during autumn 2020 and until early January 2021, but then partly recovered. The widespread concerns for water supply have eased by the end of January.

  • From February to April 2021, below-average precipitation is forecast only for central-southern areas, with normal or above-average precipitation expected for the rest of the country. Despite some uncertainties, the overall situation is not expected to worsen towards drier conditions in any areas, with the possible exception of central-southern areas.

GDO indicator: Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI)

The SPI indicator is used to monitor the occurrence of meteorological drought. The lower (more negative) the SPI value, the more intense is the drought. Figure 4 (top) shows the anomalies of precipitation for the six months from August 2020 to January 2021 (SPI-6), a period that accounts for about half the annual precipitation across Turkey. As can be seen, central-northern and eastern regions display the lowest SPI values, highlighting precipitation totals well below the usual inter-annual variability. In the yearly view (Figure 4, bottom), by January 2021 the precipitation deficit is negligible for most areas of Turkey

GDO indicator: SPI outlook

During the three-month period from February to April 2021, negative precipitation anomalies are forecasted for the central-southern areas of Turkey, while the rest of the country is expected to receive normal or above average precipitation (Figure 5). Considering that this period is the wettest for eastern Turkey, incoming precipitation should be sufficient to compensate for the current deficit. Concerning central and western Turkey, the same three-month period is set to be relatively rainy as well (albeit not the wettest) and - given the outlook - it is less likely that all regions will receive enough precipitation to fill the gap. However, conditions are not expected to worsen over the whole northern half of Turkey.