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SPI-Based Analyses of Drought Changes over the Past 60 Years in China’s Major Crop-Growing Areas

National Hulunber Grassland Ecosystem Observation and Research Station, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth Research, Chinese Academy of Science and Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100086, China
Beijing Research Center of Intelligent Equipment for Agriculture, Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, University of Chinese academy of Science, Beijing 100086, China
College of Resources and Environments, Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha 410128, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 171;
Received: 1 December 2017 / Revised: 19 January 2018 / Accepted: 23 January 2018 / Published: 25 January 2018
PDF [2773 KB, uploaded 25 January 2018]


This study analyzes the changes in drought patterns in China’s major crop-growing areas over the past 60 years. The analysis was done using both weather station data and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) rainfall data to calculate the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI). The results showed that the occurrences of extreme drought were the most serious in recent years in the Southwest China and Sichuan crop-growing areas. The Yangtze River (MLRY) and South China crop-growing areas experienced extreme droughts during 1960–1980, whereas the Northeast China and Huang–Huai–Hai crop-growing areas experienced extreme droughts around 2003. The analysis showed that the SPIs calculated by TRMM data at time scales of one, three, and six months were reliable for monitoring drought in the study regions, but for 12 months, the SPIs calculated by gauge and TRMM data showed less consistency. The analysis of the spatial distribution of droughts over the past 15 years using TMI rainfall data revealed that more than 60% of the area experienced extreme drought in 2011 over the MLRY region and in 1998 over the Huang–Huai–Hai region. The frequency of different intensity droughts presented significant spatial heterogeneity in each crop-growing region. View Full-Text
Keywords: drought; SPI; TMI data; crop-growing regions drought; SPI; TMI data; crop-growing regions

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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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Xia, L.; Zhao, F.; Mao, K.; Yuan, Z.; Zuo, Z.; Xu, T. SPI-Based Analyses of Drought Changes over the Past 60 Years in China’s Major Crop-Growing Areas. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 171.

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