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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2017, Vol. 16 Issue (10): 2308-2322    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(16)61545-9
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Spatiotemporal variation of drought characteristics in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, China under the climate change scenario
LI Xiang-xiang1, 2, JU Hui1, Sarah Garré3, YAN Chang-rong1, William D. Batchelor4, LIU Qin1, 3
1 Key Laboratory of Dryland Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture/Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, P.R.China
2 Agro-meteorological Center of Jiangxi Province, Nanchang 330096, P.R.China
3 Department of Biosystems Engineering, University of Liege, Gembloux Agro-BioTech, Gembloux 5030, Belgium
4 Biosystems Engineering Department, Auburn University, AL 36849, USA
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Abstract  Understanding the potential drought characteristics under climate change is essential to reduce vulnerability and establish adaptation strategies, especially in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain (3H Plain), which is a major grain production area in China.  In this paper, we investigated the variations in drought characteristics (drought event frequency, duration, severity, and intensity) for the past 50 years (1961–2010) and under future scenarios (2010–2099), based on the observed meteorological data and the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario, respectively.  First, we compared the applicability of three climatic drought indices: the standardized precipitation index (SPI), the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index based on the Penman-Monteith equation (SPEI-PM) and the same index based on the Thornthwaite equation (SPEI-TH) to correlate the recorded agricultural drought areas.  Then, we analyzed the drought characteristics using ‘run theory’ for both historical and the future RCP 8.5 scenario based on the best performing index.  Correlation analyses between drought indices and agricultural drought areas showed that SPEI-PM performed better than SPI and SPEI-TH in the 3H Plain.  Based on the results of SPEI-PM, drought risks including duration, severity and intensity during 1961–2010 showed an decreasing trend.  However, under the RCP 8.5 scenario, drought is expected to rise in frequency, duration, severity, and intensity from 2010–2099, although drought components during the 2010–2039 are predicted to be milder compared with historical conditions.  This study highlights that the estimations for atmospheric evaporative demand would create differences in the prediction of long-term drought trends by different drought indices.  The results of this study can help inform researchers and local policy makers to establish drought management strategies.
Keywords:  climate change        drought index        drought characteristics       Huang-Huai-Hai Plain  
Received: 05 September 2016   Accepted: 30 September 2017

This research was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, 2012CB955904), the National Key Technologies R&D Program of China during the 12th Five-year Plan period (2012BAD09B01), and the National Science Foundation for Young Scientists of China (41401510). We thank the University of Liège-Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech of Belgium and more specifically the research platform AgricultureIslife for the funding of the scientific stay in Belgium that made this paper possible.

Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence LIU Qin, Tel/Fax: +86-10-82109773, E-mail:   
About author:  LI Xiang-xiang, E-mail:

Cite this article: 

LI Xiang-xiang, JU Hui, Sarah Garré, YAN Chang-rong, William D. Batchelor, LIU Qin. 2017. Spatiotemporal variation of drought characteristics in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, China under the climate change scenario. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 16(10): 2308-2322.

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