Analysis of dry/wet conditions using the standardized precipitation index and its potential usefulness for drought/flood monitoring in Hunan Province, China
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Local dry/wet conditions and extreme rainfall events are of great concern in regional water resource and disaster risk management. Extensive studies have been carried out to investigate the change of dry/wet conditions and the adaptive responses to extreme rainfall events within the context of climate change. However, applicable tools and their usefulness are still not sufficiently studied, and in Hunan Province, a major grain-producing area in China that has been frequently hit by flood and drought, relevant research is even more limited. This paper investigates the spatiotemporal variation of dry/wet conditions and their annual/seasonal trends in Hunan with the standardized precipitation index (SPI) at various time scales. Furthermore, to verify the potential usefulness of SPI for drought/flood monitoring, the correlation between river discharge and SPI at multiple time scales was examined, and the relation between extreme SPI and the occurrence of historical drought/flood events is explored. The results indicate that the upper reaches of the major rivers in Hunan Province have experienced more dry years than the middle and lower reaches over the past 57 years, and the region shows a trend of becoming drier in the spring and autumn seasons and wetter in the summer and winter seasons. We also found a strong correlation between river discharge and SPI series, with the maximum correlation coefficient occurred at the time scale of 2 months. SPI at different time scales may vary in its usefulness in drought/flood monitoring, and this highlights the need for a comprehensive consideration of various time scales when SPI is employed to monitor droughts and floods.