Impacts of climate change on aridity index and its spatiotemporal variation in the Loess Plateau of China, from 1961 to 2014
The Loess Plateau, the transitional zone between humid and arid regions of China, is an important region to examine the regional hydrological cycle and variation in humid and arid regions under global climate change. Aridity index (AI), the ratio of precipitation (P) to potential evapotranspiration (ET0), is an important indicator of regional climate conditions and is also used to classify drylands. In this study, data from 51 national meteorological stations during the period of 1961–2014 were collected to estimate the AI in the Loess Plateau. Results show that a downward trend in annual AI was detected and the boundary of the drylands region based on the AI was expanded across the Loess Plateau over the period of 1961–2014. The spatiotemporal variability of P was the main cause in the AI variations. Furthermore, data analysis suggested the occurrences of the extreme minimum AI values were mostly affected by fluctuations of the two factors (ET0 and P) rather than its corresponding trend during the period. Thus, this study indicated the major driving factor of AI and the relationship between extreme AI values and the global climate anomalies in the Loess Plateau region, and meanwhile, provided an understanding of the impacts of climate change on hydrological cycle in the Loess Plateau of China.
KeywordsAridity index Potential evapotranspiration Drylands Climate change The Loess Plateau
This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51379175 and 51679200), the Program for Key Science and Technology Innovation Team in Shaanxi Province (Grant No. 2014KCT-27), and the Hundred Talents Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. A315021406). The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest regarding the publication of this paper.
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