Aridity index (AI
), defined as the ratio of annual potential evapotranspiration to annual precipitation, has been widely applied in dividing climate regimes and monitoring drought events. Investigating variation of AI
and the role of climate variables are thus of great significant for managing agricultural water resource and maintaining regional ecosystem stability. In this study, with the well-corrected precipitation records and the optimized parameters in estimating solar radiation, we investigated the variation of AI
and its climatic attribution in the Southwest China using the observed climate records from 135 meteorological stations during the period of 1993–2015. The results showed that the AI
increased significantly (0.0053 year−1
< 0.05) from 1993 to 2015 and abruptly increasing occurred around 2002. Approximately 85% of stations showed an increasing trend, while 24% of stations reached up to a significant increasing level, which demonstrated that the Southwest China was getting drier for the recent 20 years. Overall, the AI was most sensitive to maximum air temperature and precipitation with values of 1.11 and −1.00, respectively. The following factors are vapor pressure, solar radiation, minimum temperature, and wind speed. The declining precipitation and ascending maximum air temperature were the key variables in dominating the increase in aridity index during the period of 1993–2015, which contribute 38.98% and 36.26% of AI variation, respectively. Our results highlighted the influence of climate variability on aridity in the Southwest China.
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