Natural Hazards

, Volume 75, Issue 3, pp 2437–2451 | Cite as

Drought severity change in China during 1961–2012 indicated by SPI and SPEI

  • Wen WangEmail author
  • Ye Zhu
  • Rengui Xu
  • Jintao Liu
Original Paper


Using monthly meteorological observation data at 633 sites in China during 1961–2012, the drought severity change has been investigated in terms of the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) with potential evapotranspiration estimated by the Penman–Monteith equation (SPEI_pm). Significant wetting appeared to have occurred in northwestern corner of China (Xinjiang Province), especially in winter. The middle to northeastern Tibetan Plateau also experienced wetting in the last 52 years in general. Significantly, drying occurred in Central China (mostly in the middle Yellow River basin) and southwestern China (Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau) in spring and in autumn. There is no evidence of an increase in drought severity over China taking the whole country into account. On the contrary, the hyper-arid and arid zones got significantly wetter in the last 52 years as indicated by both SPI and SPEI.


Standardized Precipitation Index Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index Land-surface humidity Drought 



Financial supports from Natural Science Foundation of China (41371050), China Science and Technology Support Program (2012BAB03B03) and 111 Project (No. B08048) are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic EngineeringHohai UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Water Resources Section, Faculty of Civil Engineering and GeosciencesDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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