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Observed changes of drought/wetness episodes in the Pearl River basin, China, using the standardized precipitation index and aridity index

Research paper by Qiang Zhang, Chong-Yu Xu, Zengxin Zhang

Indexed on: 16 Jan '09Published on: 16 Jan '09Published in: Theoretical and Applied Climatology



Abstract

Monthly precipitation data of 42 rain stations over the Pearl River basin for 1960–2005 were analyzed to classify anomalously wet and dry conditions by using the standardized precipitation index (SPI) and aridity index (I) for the rainy season (April–September) and winter (December–February). Trends of the number of wet and dry months decided by SPI were detected with Mann-Kendall technique. Furthermore, we also investigated possible causes behind wet and dry variations by analyzing NCAR/NCEP reanalysis dataset. The results indicate that: (1) the Pearl River basin tends to be dryer in the rainy season and comes to be wetter in winter. However, different wetting and drying properties can be identified across the basin: west parts of the basin tend to be dryer; and southeast parts tend to be wetter; (2) the Pearl River basin is dominated by dry tendency in the rainy season and is further substantiated by aridity index (I) variations; and (3) water vapor flux, moisture content changes in the rainy season and winter indicate different influences of moisture changes on wet and dry conditions across the Pearl River basin. Increasing moisture content gives rise to an increasing number of wet months in winter. However, no fixed relationships can be observed between moisture content changes and number of wet months in the rainy season, indicating that more than one factor can influence the dry or wet conditions of the study region. The results of this paper will be helpful for basin-scale water resource management under the changing climate.