Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 133, Issue 1–2, pp 331–341 | Cite as

Projection of drought hazards in China during twenty-first century

  • Yulian Liang
  • Yongli WangEmail author
  • Xiaodong Yan
  • Wenbin Liu
  • Shaofei Jin
  • Mingchen Han
Original Paper


Drought is occurring with increased frequency under climate warming. To understand the behavior of drought and its variation in the future, current and future drought in the twenty-first century over China is discussed. The drought frequency and trend of drought intensity are assessed using the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), which is calculated based on historical meteorological observations and outputs of the fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) under three representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios. The simulation results of drought period, defined by PDSI class, could capture more than 90% of historical drought events. Projection results indicate that drought frequency will increase over China in the twenty-first century under the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios. In the mid-twenty-first century (2021–2050), similar patterns of drought frequency are found under the three emission scenarios, and annual drought duration would last 3.5–4 months. At the end of the twenty-first century (2071–2100), annual drought duration could exceed 5 months in northwestern China as well as coastal areas of eastern and southern China under the RCP8.5 scenario. Drought is slightly reduced over the entire twenty-first century under the RCP2.6 scenario, whereas drought hazards will be more serious in most regions of China under the RCP8.5 scenario.



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of Guangxi, China (Grant No. 2014GXNSFBA118094 and 2015GXNSFAA139243), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41565005 and 41401037), the major Science and Technology Project of Guangxi, China (Grant No. GKAB16380267), the Guangxi Refined Forecast Service Innovation Team, and the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (Grant No. 2012CB95570003). We wish to thank the editors and reviewers for their invaluable comments and constructive suggestions to improve the quality of the manuscript.


  1. AghaKouchak A, Nakhijiri N (2012) A near real-time satellite-based global drought climate data. Environ Res Lett 7:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander LV, Zhang X, Peterson TC, Caesar J, Gleason B, Tank AMGK et al (2006) Global observed changes in daily climate extremes of temperature and precipitation. J Geophys Res: Atmos 111:1042–1063Google Scholar
  3. Allen R, Pereira L, Raes D, Smith M (1998) Crop evapotranspiration guidelines for computing crop water requirements, FAO Irrig Drain 56Google Scholar
  4. Chen D, Gao G, Xu CY, Guo J, Ren G (2005) Comparison of the Thornthwaite method and pan data with the standard Penman-Monteith estimates of reference evapotranspiration in Chin. Clim Res 28:123–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dai AG (2011) Characteristics and trends in various forms of the palmer drought severity index during 1900–2008. J Geophys Res 116:1248–1256Google Scholar
  6. Dai AG (2013) Increasing drought under global warming in observations and models. Nat Clim Chang 3:52–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dai AG, Trenberth KE, Qian T (2004) A global dataset of Palmer Drought Severity Index for 1870-2002: relationship with soil moisture and effects of surface warming. J Hydrol 5:1117–1130Google Scholar
  8. He B, Lü A, Wu J, Zhao L, Liu M (2011) Drought hazard assessment and spatial characteristics analysis in China. J Geogr Sci 21:235–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. IPCC (2013) Climate change 2013: the physical Science basis. Working group I contribution to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 21–253Google Scholar
  10. Liang YL, Yan XD (2016) Prediction of climate change over China and uncertainty analysis during the 21st century under RCPs. J Trop Meteorol 32:183–192 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  11. Lloyd-Hughes B, Saunders MA (2002) A drought climatology for Europe. Int J Climatol 22:1571–1592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. McKee TB, Doesken NJ, Kleist J (1993) The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales. In: Proceedings of the 8th Conference on Applied Climatology, 17–22 January, Anaheim, CA. American Meteorological Society, Boston, pp 179–183Google Scholar
  13. Mishra AK, Singh VP (2009) Analysis of drought severity-area-frequency curves using a general circulation model and scenario uncertainty. J Geophys Res 114:605–617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mishra AK, Singh VP (2011) Drought modeling—a review. J Hydrol 403:157–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Murray V, Mcbean GM, Bhatt M, Borsch S, Cheong S, Erian LS, Nadim F, Núñez M, Oyun R, Suarez A (2012) Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 18:586–599Google Scholar
  16. Nam WH, Hayes MJ, Svoboda MD, Tadesse T, Wilhite DA (2015) Drought hazard assessment in the context of climate change for South Korea. Agric Water Manag 160:106–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ntale HK, Gan TY (2003) Drought indices and their application to East Africa. Int J Climatol 23:1335–1357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Palmer WC (1965) Meteorological drought. Office of Climatology Research Paper 45, Weather Bureau, Washington, D.C., 58 ppGoogle Scholar
  19. Palmer WC (1968) Keeping track of crop moisture conditions, nationwide: the new crop moisture index. Weatherwise 21:156–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Penalba OC, Rivera JA (2016) Regional aspects of future precipitation and meteorological drought characteristics over southern South America projected by a cmip5 multi-model ensemble. Int J Climatol 36:974–986CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rhee J, Cho J (2016) Future changes in drought characteristics: regional analysis for South Korea under CMIP5 projections. J Hydrol 17:437–451Google Scholar
  22. Roderick ML, Farquhar GD (2002) The cause of decreased pan evaporation over the past 50 years. Science 298:1410–1411Google Scholar
  23. Sabeerali CT, Rao SA, Dhakate AR, Salunke K, Goswami BN (2015) Why ensemble mean projection of south Asian monsoon rainfall by cmip5 models is not reliable? Clim Dyn 45:161–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schrier G, Jones PD, Briffa KR (2011) The sensitivity of the PDSI to the Thornthwaite and Penman-Monteith parameterizations for the potential evapotranspiration. J Geophys Res 116:613–632Google Scholar
  25. Shili Y, Jinming F, Wenjie D, Jieming C (2014) Analyses of extreme climate events over China based on CMIP5 historical and future simulations. Adv Atmos Sci 31:1209–1220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Song X, Li L, Fu G, Li J, Zhang A, Liu W, Zhang K (2013) Spatial-temporal variations of spring drought based on spring-composite index values for the Songnen plain, Northeast China. Theor Appl Climatol 116:371–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Spinoni J, Naumann G, Carrao H, Barbosa P, Vogt J (2014) World drought frequency, duration, and severity for 1951–2010. Int J Climatol 34:2792–2804CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Swain S, Hayhoe K (2015) CMIP5 projected changes in spring and summer drought and wet conditions over North America. Clim Dyn 44:2737–2750CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Taylor KE, Stouffer RJ, Meehl GA (2012) An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design. Am Meteorol Soc 93:485–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Thornthwaite CW (1948) An approach toward a rational classification of climate. Geogr Rev 38:55–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Trenberth KE, Dai A, Schrier GVD, Jones PD, Barichivich J, Briffa KR et al (2013) Global warming and changes in drought. Nat Clim Chang 4:17–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Venkataraman K, Tummuri S, Medina A, Perry J (2016) 21st century drought outlook for major climate divisions of texas based on cmip5 multimodel ensemble: implications for water resource management. J Hydrol 534:300–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vicente-Serrano SM, Begueria S, Lopez-Moreno J (2010) A multiscalar drought index sensitive to global warming: the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index. Climate 23:1696–1718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wanders N, Wada Y (2015) Human and climate impacts on the 21st century hydrological drought. J Hydrol 526:208–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wang L, Chen W (2014) A cmip5 multimodel projection of future temperature, precipitation, and climatological drought in China. Int J Climatol 34:2059–2078CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wang XJ, Zhang JY, Shamsuddin S, Amgad E, He RM, Bao ZX, Ali M (2012) Water resources management strategy for adaptation to droughts in China. Mitig Adapt Strat Gl 17:923–937CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wells N, Goddard S, Hayes MJ (2004) A self-calibrating palmer drought severity index. J Clim 17:2335–2351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Xu K, Yang D, Yang H, Li Z, Qin Y, Shen Y (2015) Spatio-temporal variation of drought in china during 1961–2012: a climatic perspective. J Hydrol 526:253–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Yang T, Zhou X, Yu Z, Krysanova V, Wang B (2014) Drought projection based on a hybrid drought index using artificial neural networks. Hydrol Process 29:2635–2648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yang X, Ren L, Liu Y, Ma M, Cheng X, Jiang S, Yuan F (2015) Assessment of trends of drought in China from CMIP5. In EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts 17: 6137Google Scholar
  41. Yin Y, Ma D, Wu S, Pan T (2015) Projections of aridity and its regional variability over China in the mid-21st century. Int J Climatol 35:4387–4398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhang B, Zhao X, Jin J, Wu P (2015) Development and evaluation of a physically based multiscalar drought index: The Standardized Moisture Anomaly Index. J Geophys Res: Atmosphere 120:11575–11588Google Scholar
  43. Zhang J, Sun F, Xu J, Chen Y, Sang Y, Liu C (2016) Dependence of trends in and sensitivity of drought over china (1961–2013) on potential evaporation model. Geophys Res Lett 43:206–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhou B, Wen QH, Xu Y, Song L, Zhang X (2014) Projected changes in temperature and precipitation extremes in China by the CMIP5 multimodel ensembles. J Clim 27:6591–6611CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yulian Liang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yongli Wang
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Xiaodong Yan
    • 4
  • Wenbin Liu
    • 5
  • Shaofei Jin
    • 6
  • Mingchen Han
    • 7
  1. 1.Nanning Meteorological ServiceNanningChina
  2. 2.CAS Key Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Environment, Energy and SustainabilityThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinChina
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surfacec Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  6. 6.Northeast Institute of Geography and AgroecologyChinese Academy of SciencesChangchunChina
  7. 7.Guangxi Statistic BureauNanningChina

Personalised recommendations