Ecology, Environment and Conservation Paper

Vol 25, May Suppl. Issue, 2019; Page No.(173-180)


Bernard Moeketsi Hlalele


Drought is actually the most obstinate, insidious and pernicious of all natural hazards that nature can everconjure up. With its slow-on-set creeping nature, at its most severe levels it can last longer and extent acrosslarge areas generating secondary hazards such as dust bowls, land degradation, destruction of terrestrialand aquatic wildlife habitats and widespread wildfires. Therefore thereis no universal definition of drought,therefore “Operational definitions can also be used to analyze drought frequency, severity, and duration for a givenhistorical period. Such definitions, however, require weather data on hourly, daily, monthly, or other time scales and,possibly, impact data (e.g., crop yield), depending on the nature of the definition being applied. Developing climatologyof drought for a region provides a greater understanding of its characteristics and the probability of recurrence atvarious levels of severity. Information of this type is extremely beneficial in the development of response and mitigationstrategies and preparedness plans”. Following the declaration of the Free State province on the 10th September2015 being drought disaster area, the current study aims to assess drought and fire hazards from regionaloperational indices in order to help disaster managers and political authorities facilitate resource allocationmobilization in response to the present situation. The study collected January 2014 to October 2015precipitation, wind speed, temperature, and relative humidity data from a web-based source. A modifiedwater balance method in conjunction with the works of Iyengar and Sudashan were used in constructing acomposite drought index. This analysis which was conducted in three dimensions, severity, frequency andspatial extent, revealed the Free State province generally experiencing the same magnitude of frequenciesand severity, although, rankings of spatial extent show a descending trend from the northern to the northeasternparts of the province and lastly the southern parts. The same spatial extent was revealed by aSwedish Angstrom index for fire dangers.

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