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Droughts are a complex natural risk that have numerous negative effects on ecosystems, agriculture and the economy. For this reason, it is difficult to determine a precise definition. Nevertheless, different conceptualizations converge in one common denominator: the deficiency of precipitation with respect to an average historical value. Droughts in Mexico have been recurrent and persistent, resulting from complex interactions of the atmosphere with the oceans and the geographic and physiographic characteristics of the country. Several researchers have approached this phenomenon with indexes to characterize it using parameters such as intensity, duration and frequency. In this study we analyze meteorological drought temporally and regionally at scales of 3, 6, 12 and 24 months with SPI and SPEI indexes at 19 weather stations located in the middle and high parts of the Sonora River basin, Mexico, for the period 1974-2013. The regions were defined according to the patterns of mean annual rainfall behavior, applying statistical techniques and analyzing the physiographic characteristics of the study region. The general results indicate that drought intensity increased at the end of the time series analyzed, and important periods were identified in the years 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2011 to 2013. SPEI defined the drought periods and the increasing intensity trend better than SPI, demonstrating the importance of including variables such as evapotranspiration in the balance of available water.
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