Tanguy, M.; Hannaford, J.; Barker, L.; Svensson, C.; Kral, F.; Fry, M.

Gridded Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) using gamma distribution with standard period 1961-2010 for Great Britain [SPIgamma61-10]

1km and 5km gridded Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI) data for Great Britain, which is a drought index based on the probability of precipitation for a given accumulation period as defined by McKee et al. (1993). SPI is calculated for different accumulation periods: 1, 3, 6, 12, 18, 24 months. Each of these is in turn calculated for each of the twelve calendar months. Note that values in monthly (and for longer accumulation periods also annual) time series of the data therefore are likely to be autocorrelated. The standard period which was used to fit the gamma distribution is 1961-2010. The dataset covers the period from 1961 to 2012.

Publication date: 2015-04-30

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Format of the dataset : netCDF

You must cite: Tanguy, M.; Hannaford, J.; Barker, L.; Svensson, C.; Kral, F.; Fry, M. (2015). Gridded Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) using gamma distribution with standard period 1961-2010 for Great Britain [SPIgamma61-10]. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/94c9eaa3-a178-4de4-8905-dbfab03b69a0



Study area
Temporal extent
1961-01-01    to    2012-12-31

Supplemental information

This dataset is referenced in:

Parsons, D. J., Rey, D., Tanguy, M., & Holman, I. P. (2019). Regional variations in the link between drought indices and reported agricultural impacts of drought. Agricultural Systems, 173, 119–129.

Provenance & quality

SPI is calculated as originally defined in [1]. SPI is based on the cumulative probability of a given rainfall amount occurring at a location. The historic rainfall data of the station is fitted to a statistical distribution. For this dataset, the statistical distribution used is the gamma distribution, which has been extensively used and is recommended as a default choice for Europe by [2]. The L-moments method was used to estimate the gamma distribution parameters, as the maximum likehood method was failing to fit a realistic distribution in some isolated cases (more details on the choice of methodology in [3]). To calculate SPI, the R package SCI was used [4], but modified to use L-moments (instead of Maximum Likelihood). The input data used is the monthly rainfall grids from CEH-Gridded Estimates of Areal Rainfall [CEH-GEAR] ([5], [6])

[1] McKee, T. B., Doesken, N. J., Kleist, J. (1993). The Relationship of Drought Frequency and Duration to Time Scales. Eighth Conference on Applied Climatology, 17-22 January 1993, Anaheim, California.

[2] Stagge, J. H., Tallaksen, L. M., Gudmundsson, L., Van Loon, A. F. and Stahl, K. (2015), Candidate Distributions for Climatological Drought Indices (SPI and SPEI). Int. J. Climatol. doi: 10.1002/joc.4267

[3] Tanguy et al. (2015), in preparation.

[4] Gudmundsson, L. & Stagge, J. H. (2014). Package 'SCI': Standardized Climate Indices such as SPI, SRI or SPEI. Repository CRAN, http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/SCI/SCI.pdf

[5] Tanguy, M., Dixon, H., Prosdocimi, I., Morris, D. G., Keller, V. D. J. (2014). Gridded estimates of daily and monthly areal rainfall for the United Kingdom (1890-2012) [CEH-GEAR]. NERC-Environmental Information Data Centre doi:10.5285/5dc179dc-f692-49ba-9326-a6893a503f6e

[6] Keller,V. D. J., Tanguy, M. , Prosdocimi, I. , Terry, J. A. , Hitt, O., Cole, S. J. , Fry, M., Morris, D. G., Dixon, H. (2015) CEH-GEAR: 1km resolution daily and monthly areal rainfall estimates for the UK for hydrological use. Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., 8, 83-112, www.earth-syst-sci-data-discuss.net/8/83/2015/ doi:10.5194/essdd-8-83-2015.

Correspondence/contact details

Dr Maliko Tanguy
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Maclean Building, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford
OX10 8BB Wallingford
United Kingdom


Tanguy, M.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Hannaford, J.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Barker, L.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Svensson, C.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Kral, F.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Fry, M.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Other contacts

Environmental Information Data Centre
NERC Environmental Information Data Centre


Spatial representation type
Spatial reference system
OSGB 1936 / British National Grid


Topic categories
Climatology / Meteorology / Atmosphere
accumulation period,  drought,  gridded data,  indicator,  monthly,  rainfall extremes,  Rees Section SPI,  Water resources (en)
Meteorological geographical features