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Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 76, Issue 1–2, pp 13–29 | Cite as

Temporal and spatial variability of dryness/wetness in China during the last 530 years

  • W.-H. Qian
  • D. Chen
  • Y. Zhu
  • H.-Y. Shen

Summary

The main characteristics of spatial and temporal variability of dryness and wetness during the last 530 years (1470–1999) are classified over five centuries. They have been investigated by using 100-site dryness/wetness index data that has recorded the historical weather conditions that affect agriculture and living conditions in eastern China. A set of principal modes of spatial variability and time coefficient series describing the dominant temporal variability are extracted by a diagnostic method, the rotated empirical orthogonal function (REOF) analysis. The long-term precipitation around Beijing, north China and the long-term runoffs in the middle Yangtze River are used to confirm the dry/wet variability in north China and the mid-low Yangtze River over the last two centuries.

When considering the data from the last 530 years as a whole, the first two modes of dryness/wetness variability are found in the mid to low sections of two major valleys in eastern China, the Yellow and Yangtze River valleys. These valleys experienced the largest dryness/wetness variability in the history of eastern China. The third and fourth modes are located in northwest and northeast China. The fifth and sixth modes are situated in south and southwest China. However, over the last 500 years the strength and location of principal modes have experienced significant changes. During the 20th century, the first mode is found in the lower Yangtze River valley, the second mode in south China while the third mode is located in the mid-low Yellow River valley. During the 19th century, the first three modes are situated in the mid-low Yellow River, the mid-low Yangtze River and south China, respectively. The first two modes in the 18th century are located in the mid-low Yellow River and the mid-low Yangtze River valleys. The largest change of all modes occurred in the 17th century with the first mode in northeast China, the second mode in northwest China, and the third mode in the mid-low Yangtze River valley. During the 16th century, the first two modes are found in the mid-low Yangtze River and the mid-low Yellow River valleys.

In each of the last five centuries, some special dryness/wetness processes are characterized in the mid-low Yangtze River and the mid-low Yellow River (north China). During the 20th century, continuous and severe wetness is experienced in the mid-low Yangtze River in the last two decades. A two-decade wetness period in north China was followed by a severe dry period in the late 19th century. Inter-annual variability, decade and two-decade oscillations of dryness/wetness are experienced in the series of different modes from one century to another. Dry/wet variations in north China and the middle Yangtze River are confirmed by series of data on local precipitation and runoff.

Keywords

River Valley Empirical Orthogonal Function Yangtze River Valley Principal Mode Time Coefficient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • W.-H. Qian
    • 1
  • D. Chen
    • 2
    • 4
  • Y. Zhu
    • 1
  • H.-Y. Shen
    • 3
  1. 1.Monsoon & Environment Research Group, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, ChinaCN
  2. 2.Earth Sciences Centre, Gothenburg University, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg, SwedenSE
  3. 3.Bureau of Hydrology, Changjing Water Resources Commission, Wuhan, ChinaCN
  4. 4.National Climate Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, ChinaCN

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