• 1 Punjab Agricultural University, Regional Research Station, Bathinda-151001, Punjab, India.
  • 2 Southern Public Works Laboratory (LTPS), Tamanrasset Antenna 11000, Tamanrasset, Algeria
  • 3 Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, Diyala University, Diyala Governorate, Iraq
  • 4 Faculty of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, Baze University, Abuja, Nigeria
  • 5 School of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), 81310,, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
PMID: 33751346 DOI: 10.1007/s11356-021-13445-0


Drought is considered one of the costliest natural disasters that result in water scarcity and crop damage almost every year. Drought monitoring and forecasting are essential for the efficient management of water resources and sustainability in agriculture. However, the design of a consistent drought prediction model based on the dynamic relationship of the drought index with its antecedent values remains a challenging task. In the present research, the SVR (support vector regression) model was hybridized with two different optimization algorithms namely; Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) and Harris Hawks Optimization (HHO) for reliable prediction of effective drought index (EDI) 1 month ahead, at different locations of Uttarakhand State of India. The inputs of the models were selected through partial autocorrelation function (PACF) analysis. The output produced by the SVR-HHO and SVR-PSO models was compared with the EDI estimated from observed data using five statistical indicators, i.e., RMSE (Root Mean Square Error), MAE (Mean Absolute Error), COC (Coefficient of Correlation), NSE (Nash-Sutcliffe Efficiency), WI (Willmott Index), and graphical inspection of radar-chart, time-variation plot, box-whisker plot, and Taylor diagram. Appraisal of results indicates that the SVR-HHO model (RMSE = 0.535-0.965, MAE = 0.363-0.622, NSE = 0.558-0.860, COC = 0.760-0.930, and WI = 0.862-0.959) outperformed the SVR-PSO model (RMSE = 0.546-0.967, MAE = 0.372-0.625, NSE = 0.556-0.855, COC = 0.758-0.929, and WI = 0.861-0.956) in predicting EDI. Visual inspection of model performances also showed a better performance of SVR-HHO compared to SVR-PSO in replicating the median, inter-quartile range, spread, and pattern of the EDI estimated from observed rainfall. The results indicate that the hybrid SVR-HHO approach can be utilized for reliable EDI predictions in the study area.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.