Please wait a minute...
Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2017, Vol. 16 Issue (10): 2308-2322    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(16)61545-9
Agro-Ecosystem & Environment Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
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
Download:  PDF in ScienceDirect  
Export:  BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      
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:

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.

Allen C D, Macalady A K, Chenchouni H, Bachelet D, McDowell N, Vennetier M, Kitzberger T, Rigling A, Breshears D D, Hogg E H, Gonzalez P, Fensham R, Zhang Z, Castro J, Demidova N, Lim J H, Allard G, Running S W, Semerci A, Cobb N. 2010. A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risks for forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 259, 660–684.

Allen R G, Pereira L S, Smith M, Raes D, Wright J L. 2005. FAO-56 dual crop coefficient method for estimating evaporation from soil and application extensions. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering (ASCE), 131, 2–13.

Begueria S, Vicente-Serrano S M, Reig F, Latorre B. 2014. Standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) revisited: Parameter fitting, evapotranspiration models, tools, datasets and drought monitoring. International Journal of Climatology, 34, 3001–3023.

Chen D L, Gao G, Xu C Y, Guo J, Ren G Y. 2005. Comparison of the Thornthwaite method and pan data with the standard Penman-Monteith estimates of reference evapotranspiration in China. Climate Research, 28, 123–132.

Chen H, Wang J, Huang J. 2014. Policy support, social capital, and farmers’ adaptation to drought in China. Global Environmental Change, 24, 193–202.

Dai A. 2011a. Characteristics and trends in various forms of the Palmer Drought Severity Index during 1900–2008. Journal of Geophysical Research (Atmospheres), 116, D12115.

Dai A. 2011b. Drought under global warming: A review. Interdisciplinary Reviews (Climate Change), 2, 45–65.

Dai A. 2013. Increasing drought under global warming in observations and models. Nature Climate Change, 3, 171–171.

Gurrapu S, Chipanshi A, Sauchyn D, Howard A. 2014. Comparison of the SPI and SPEI on predicting drought conditions and streamflow in the Canadian prairies. In: Proceedings of the 28th Conference on Hydrology. American Meteorological Society, Atlanta, USA. pp. 2–6.

Heim R R. 2002. A review of twentieth-century drought indices used in the United States. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 83, 1149–1165.

Huang Y, Wang J, Jiang D, Zhou K, Ding X, Fu J. 2014. Surface water deficiency zoning of China based on surface water deficit index (SWDI). Water Resources, 41, 372–378.

Labudová L, Labuda M, Taká? J. 2017. Comparison of SPI and SPEI applicability for drought impact assessment on crop production in the Danubian Lowland and the East Slovakian Lowland. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 128, 491–506.

Leng G, Tang Q, Rayburg S. 2015. Climate change impacts on meteorological, agricultural and hydrological droughts in China. Global and Planetary Change, 126, 23–34.

Li Y, Huang H, Ju H, Lin E, Xiong W, Han X, Wang H, Peng Z, Wang Y, Xu J, Cao Y, Hu W. 2015. Assessing vulnerability and adaptive capacity to potential drought for winter-wheat under the RCP 8.5 scenario in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 209, 125–131.

Lu C, Fan L. 2013. Winter wheat yield potentials and yield gaps in the North China Plain. Field Crops Research, 143, 98–105.

McKee T B, Doesken N J, Kleist J. 1993. The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales. In: Preprints, 8th Conference on Applied Climatology. American Meteorological Society, Boston, USA. pp. 179–183.

Mei X, Kang S, Yu Q, Huang Y, Zhong X, Gong D, Huo Z, Liu E. 2013. Pathways to synchronously improving crop productivity and field water use efficiency in the North China Plain. Scientia Agricultura Sinica, 46, 1149–1157. (in Chinese)

Ming B, Guo Y Q, Tao H B, Liu G Z, Li S K, Wang P. 2015. SPEIPM-based research on drought impact on maize yield in North China Plain. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 14, 660–669.

Mishra A K, Desai V R. 2005. Drought forecasting using stochastic models. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment, 19, 326–339.

Nam W H, Hayes M J, Svoboda M D, Tadesse T, Wilhite D A. 2015. Drought hazard assessment in the context of climate change for South Korea. Agricultural Water Management, 160, 106–117.

Potopova V, Stepanek P, Mozny M, Tuerkott L, Soukup J. 2015. Performance of the standardised precipitation evapotranspiration index at various lags for agricultural drought risk assessment in the Czech Republic. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 202, 26–38.

Sentelhas P C, Gillespie T J, Santos E A. 2010. Evaluation of FAO Penman-Monteith and alternative methods for estimating reference evapotranspiration with missing data in Southern Ontario, Canada. Agricultural Water Management, 97, 635–644.

Sheffield J, Wood E F, Roderick M L. 2012. Little change in global drought over the past 60 years. Nature, 491, 435–438.

Sillmann J, Kharin V V, Zwiers F W, Zhang X, Bronaugh D. 2013. Climate extremes indices in the CMIP5 multimodel ensemble: Part 2. Future climate projections. Journal of Geophysical Research (Atmospheres), 118, 2473–2493.

Sun J, Liu Y. 2013. Responses of tree-ring growth and crop yield to drought indices in the Shanxi province, North China. International Journal of Biometeorology, 58, 1521–1530.

Trenberth K E, Dai A, van der Schrier G, Jones P D, Barichivich J, Briffa K R, Sheffield J. 2014. Global warming and changes in drought. Nature Climate Change, 4, 17–22.

Vicente-Serrano S M, Begueria S, Lopez-Moreno J I. 2010. A multiscalar drought index sensitive to global warming: The standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index. Journal of Climate, 23, 1696–1718.

Vicente-Serrano S M, Begueria S, Lopez-Moreno J I. 2011. Comment on “Characteristics and trends in various forms of the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) during 1900–2008” by Aiguo Dai. Journal of Geophysical Research (Atmospheres), 116, D19112.

Vicente-Serrano S M, Beguería S, Lorenzo-Lacruz J, Camarero J J, López-Moreno J I, Azorin-Molina C, Revuelto J, Morán-Tejeda E, Sanchez-Lorenzo A. 2012. Performance of drought indices for ecological, agricultural, and hydrological applications. Earth Interactions, 16, 1–27.

Wang H, Chen A, Wang Q, He B. 2015. Drought dynamics and impacts on vegetation in China from 1982 to 2011. Ecological Engineering, 75, 303–307.

Wang L, Chen W. 2014. A CMIP5 multimodel projection of future temperature, precipitation, and climatological drought in China. International Journal of Climatology, 34, 2059–2078.

Wang W, Zhu Y, Xu R, Liu J. 2015. Drought severity change in China during 1961–2012 indicated by SPI and SPEI. Natural Hazards, 75, 2437–2451.

Wilhite D A, Sivakumar M V K, Pulwarty R. 2014. Managing drought risk in a changing climate: The role of national drought policy. Weather and Climate Extremes, 3, 4–13.

Wilhite D A, Svoboda M D, Hayes M J. 2007. Understanding the complex impacts of drought: A key to enhancing drought mitigation and preparedness. Water Resources Management, 21, 763–774.

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. Journal of Hydrology, 526, 253–264.

Xu L, Wang H, Duan Q, Ma J. 2013. The temporal and spatial distribution of droughts during summer corn growth in Yunnan Province based on SPEI. Resources Science, 35, 1024–1034.

Yang J, Mei X, Huo Z, Yan C, Ju H, Zhao F, Liu Q. 2015. Water consumption in summer maize and winter wheat cropping system based on SEBAL model in Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 14, 2065–2076.

Yevjevich V. 1967. An Objective Approach to Definitions and Investigations of Continental Hydrologic Droughts. Hydrology Paper 23. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. p. 18.

Yong B, Ren L, Hong Y, Gourley J J, Chen X, Dong J, Wang W, Shen Y, Hardy J. 2013. Spatial-temporal changes of water resources in a typical semiarid basin of North China over the past 50 years and assessment of possible natural and socioeconomic causes. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 14, 1009–1034.

Yu M, Li Q, Hayes M J, Svoboda M D, Heim R R. 2014. Are droughts becoming more frequent or severe in China based on the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index: 1951–2010? International Journal of Climatology, 34, 545–558.

Yu Q, Li L, Luo Q, Eamus D, Xu S, Chen C, Wang E, Liu J, Nielsen D C. 2014. Year patterns of climate impact on wheat yields. International Journal of Climatology, 34, 518–528.

Yu Y, Huang Y, Zhang W. 2012. Changes in rice yields in China since 1980 associated with cultivar improvement, climate and crop management. Field Crops Research, 136, 65–75.

Zhai J, Su B, Krysanova V, Vetter T, Gao C, Jiang T. 2010. Spatial variation and trends in PDSI and SPI indices and their relation to streamflow in 10 large regions of China. Journal of Climate, 23, 649–663.

Zhang H L, Zhao X, Yin X G, Liu S L, Xue J F, Wang M, Pu C, Lal R, Chen F. 2015. Challenges and adaptations of farming to climate change in the North China Plain. Climatic Change, 129, 213–224.

Zhang J, Sun F, Xu J, Chen Y, Sang Y, Liu C. 2015. Dependence of trends in and sensitivity of drought over China (1961–2013) on potential evaporation model. Geophysical Research Letters, 43, 206–213.

Zhang X, Chen S, Sun H, Shao L, Wang Y. 2011. Changes in evapotranspiration over irrigated winter wheat and maize in North China Plain over three decades. Agricultural Water Management, 98, 1097–1104.

Zhang X Y, Chen S Y, Liu M Y, Pei D, Sun H Y. 2005. Improved water use efficiency associated with cultivars and agronomic management in the North China Plain. Agronomy Journal, 97, 783–790.
[1] XIAN Xiao-qing, ZHAO Hao-xiang, GUO Jian-yang, ZHANG Gui-fen, LIU Hui, LIU Wan-xue, WAN Fang-hao. Estimation of the potential geographical distribution of a new potato pest (Schrankia costaestrigalis) in China under climate change[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2023, 22(8): 2441-2455.
[2] FAN Ting-lu, LI Shang-zhong, ZHAO Gang, WANG Shu-ying, ZHANG Jian-jun, WANG Lei, DANG Yi, CHENG Wan-li. Response of dryland crops to climate change and drought-resistant and water-suitable planting technology: A case of spring maize[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2023, 22(7): 2067-2079.
[3] PAN Song, PENG De-liang, LI Ying-mei, CHEN Zhi-jie, ZHAI Ying-yan, LIU Chen, HONG Bo. Potential global distribution of the guava root-knot nematode Meloidogyne enterolobii under different climate change scenarios using MaxEnt ecological niche modeling[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2023, 22(7): 2138-2150.
[4] Oluwaseyi Samuel OLANREWAJU, Olubukola Oluranti BABALOLA. The rhizosphere microbial complex in plant health: A review of interaction dynamics[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2022, 21(8): 2168-2182.
[5] ZHANG Li, CHU Qing-quan, JIANG Yu-lin, CHEN Fu, LEI Yong-deng. Impacts of climate change on drought risk of winter wheat in the North China Plain[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2021, 20(10): 2601-2612.
[6] WU Jian-zhai, ZHANG Jing, GE Zhang-ming, XING Li-wei, HAN Shu-qing, SHEN Chen, KONG Fan-tao . Impact of climate change on maize yield in China from 1979 to 2016[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2021, 20(1): 289-299.
[7] WANG Yun-xia, CHEN Shu-ping, ZHANG Dong-xing, YANG Li, CUI Tao, JING Hui-rong, LI Yu-huan. Effects of subsoiling depth, period interval and combined tillage practice on soil properties and yield in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, China[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2020, 19(6): 1596-1608.
[8] QU Chun-hong, LI Xiang-xiang, JU Hui, LIU Qin. The impacts of climate change on wheat yield in the Huang-Huai- Hai Plain of China using DSSAT-CERES-Wheat model under different climate scenarios[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2019, 18(6): 1379-1391.
[9] SONG Chun-xiao, LIU Rui-feng, Les Oxley, MA Heng-yun. Do farmers care about climate change? Evidence from five major grain producing areas of China[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2019, 18(6): 1402-1414.
[10] CHEN Ying-ying, ZHANG Wei, MA Gang, MA Chun-sen. More stressful event does not always depress subsequent life performance[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2019, 18(10): 2321-2329.
[11] LIN Er-da, GUO Li-ping, JU Hui. Challenges to increasing the soil carbon pool of agro-ecosystems in China[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2018, 17(04): 723-725.
[12] Syed Adeel Zafar, Amjad Hameed, Muhammad Amjad Nawaz, MA Wei, Mehmood Ali Noor, Muzammil Hussain, Mehboob-ur-Rahman. Mechanisms and molecular approaches for heat tolerance in rice (Oryza sativa L.) under climate change scenario[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2018, 17(04): 726-738.
[13] ZHAI Shi-yan, SONG Gen-xin, QIN Yao-chen, YE Xin-yue, Leipnik Mark. Climate change and Chinese farmers: Perceptions and determinants of adaptive strategies[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2018, 17(04): 949-963.
[14] Vahid Karimi, Ezatollah Karami, Marzieh Keshavarz. Climate change and agriculture: Impacts and adaptive responses in Iran[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2018, 17(01): 1-15.
[15] Asmat Ullah, Ashfaq Ahmad, Tasneem Khaliq, Javaid Akhtar. Recognizing production options for pearl millet in Pakistan under changing climate scenarios[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2017, 16(04): 762-773.
No Suggested Reading articles found!