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Drought risk is a major concern across many regions of Argentina because precipitation is extremely variable. One of these regions, the Pampas, is the main agricultural and livestock production area, extending over 60 million hectares. This region was recently surveyed to detect, monitor, and assess the occurrence of drought using a network of 27 meteorological stations and the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), developed by McKee et al. (1993). The SPI has various categories that define drought intensities. A period is considered humid when the SPI value is greater than +1 and a period is considered dry when the value of the SPI is less than -1. The persistence of the extreme values was also analyzed temporally and spatially.
During the second half of 1999, the region most affected by drought was the agriculturally productive northeastern region of Argentina (Figure 1). The start of the normal rainy season was delayed for several months, further aggravating the problem and causing crop damage and production losses. This drought was due to the cumulative effect of inadequate rainfall during the 1999–2000 growing season. Several provinces in Argentina experienced the severe drought, with Entre Rios (Concordia and Gualeguychu), Buenos Aires (Junin, Nueve de Julio, and Bolivar), Sante Fe (Rosario and Ceres), and Córdoba (Villa María de Río Seco) being the most affected during January 2000 (Figure 1).