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Are droughts becoming more frequent or severe in China based on the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index: 1951–2010?

Authors

  • Meixiu Yu,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing, China
    2. National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA
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  • Qiongfang Li,

    Corresponding author
    1. State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing, China
    2. College of Hydrology and Water resources, Hohai University, Nanjing, China
    3. Center for International River Research, School of Business, Hohai University, Nanjing, China
    • Correspondence to: Q. Li, State key laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic engineering, Hohai University. Jinguanlou Building, No.1 Xikang Road, Nanjing City 210098, China E-mail: li_qiongfang@hotmail.com

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  • Michael J. Hayes,

    1. National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA
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  • Mark D. Svoboda,

    1. National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA
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  • Richard R. Heim

    1. NOAA/National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC, USA
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ABSTRACT

The Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) was computed based on the monthly precipitation and air temperature values at 609 locations over China during the period 1951–2010.Various characteristics of drought across China were examined including: long-term trends, percentage of area affected, intensity, duration, and drought frequency. The results revealed that severe and extreme droughts have become more serious since late 1990s for all of China (with dry area increasing by ∼3.72% per decade); and persistent multi-year severe droughts were more frequent in North China, Northeast China, and western Northwest China; significant drying trends occurred over North China, the southwest region of Northeast China, central and eastern regions of Northwest China, the central and southwestern parts of Southwest China and southwestern and northeastern parts of western Northwest mainly due to a decrease in precipitation coupled with a general increase in temperature. In addition, North China, the western Northwest China, and the Southwest China had their longest drought durations during the 1990s and 2000s. Droughts also affected western Northwest, eastern Northwest, North, and Northeast regions of China more frequently during the recent three decades. The results of this article could provide certain references and triggers for establishing a drought early warning system in China. © 2013 Royal Meteorological Society

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