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Sustainability 2015, 7(10), 13597-13609; doi:10.3390/su71013597

Temporal and Spatial Variability of Droughts in Southwest China from 1961 to 2012

1
Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2
Satellite Environment Center, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Beijing 100094, China
3
State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, Department of Water Resources, China Institute of Hydropower & Water Resources Research, Beijing 100038, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 17 August 2015 / Revised: 29 September 2015 / Accepted: 29 September 2015 / Published: 7 October 2015
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Abstract

Southwest China (SC) has suffered a series of super extreme droughts in the last decade. This study analyzed the temporal and spatial variations of drought in SC from 1961 to 2012. Based on precipitation anomaly index (PAI) that was derived from 1 km gridded precipitation data, three time scales (month, year and decade) for the drought frequency (DF) and drought area were applied to estimate the spatio-temporal structure of droughts. A time-series analysis showed that winter droughts and spring droughts occurred frequently for almost half of the year from November to March. Summer droughts occasionally occurred in severe drought decades: the 1960s, 1980s and 2000s. During the period of observation, the percent of drought area in SC increased from the 1960s (<5%) to the 2000s (>25%). A total of 57% of the area was affected by drought in 2011, when the area experienced its most severe drought both in terms of area and severity. The spatial analysis, which benefitted from the gridded data, detailed that all of SC is at drought risk except for the central Sichuan Basin. The area at high risk for severe and extreme droughts was localized in the mountains of the junction of Sichuan and Yunnan. The temporal and spatial variability can be prerequisites for drought resistance planning and drought risk management of SC. View Full-Text
Keywords: droughts; Southwest China; precipitation anomaly index; drought frequency droughts; Southwest China; precipitation anomaly index; drought frequency
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Huang, Y.; Xu, C.; Yang, H.; Wang, J.; Jiang, D.; Zhao, C. Temporal and Spatial Variability of Droughts in Southwest China from 1961 to 2012. Sustainability 2015, 7, 13597-13609.

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