Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 83, Issue 1–4, pp 139–151

Recent trends in observed temperature and precipitation extremes in the Yangtze River basin, China

  • B. D. Su
  • T. Jiang
  • W. B. Jin


The present study is an analysis of the observed extreme temperature and precipitation trends over Yangtze from 1960 to 2002 on the basis of the daily data from 108 meteorological stations. The intention is to identify whether or not the frequency or intensity of extreme events has increased with climate warming over Yangtze River basin in the last 40 years. Both the Mann-Kendall (MK) trend test and simple linear regression were utilized to detect monotonic trends in annual and seasonal extremes.

Trend tests reveal that the annual and seasonal mean maximum and minimum temperature trend is characterized by a positive trend and that the strongest trend is found in the winter mean minimum in the Yangtze. However, the observed significant trend on the upper Yangtze reaches is less than that found on the middle and lower Yangtze reaches and for the mean maximum is much less than that of the mean minimum. From the basin-wide point of view, significant increasing trends are observed in 1-day extreme temperature in summer and winter minimum, but there is no significant trend for 1-day maximum temperature. Moreover, the number of cold days ≤0 °C and ≤10 °C shows significant decrease, while the number of hot days (daily value ≥35 °C) shows only a minor decrease. The upward trends found in the winter minimum temperature in both the mean and the extreme value provide evidence of the warming-up of winter and of the weakening of temperature extremes in the Yangtze in last few decades.

The monsoon climate implies that precipitation amount peaks in summer as does the occurrence of heavy rainfall events. While the trend test has revealed a significant trend in summer rainfall, no statistically significant change was observed in heavy rain intensity. The 1-day, 3-day and 7-day extremes show only a minor increase from a basin-wide point of view. However, a significant positive trend was found for the number of rainstorm days (daily rainfall ≥50 mm). The increase of rainstorm frequency, rather than intensity, on the middle and lower reaches contributes most to the positive trend in summer precipitation in the Yangtze.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Becker, S, Gemmer, M, Jiang, T 2003Observed and interpolated precipitation trends and variability in the Yangtze catchment area.Journal of Lake Sciences15123129Google Scholar
  2. Changjiang Water Resource Commission, Ministry of Water Resources (CWRC) (eds) (2002) Floods and droughts in the Yangtze River basin. Water Conservancy and Water Electricity Publication House. Peking, 326 pp (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  3. Conrad, V, Pollak, C 1950Methods in climatology.Harvard University PressCambridge, MA459Google Scholar
  4. Dairaku, K, Emori, S, Oki, T 2004Rainfall amount, intensity, duration, and frequency relationships in the Mae Chaem Watershed in southeast Asia.J Hydrometeorol5458470Google Scholar
  5. De Gaetano, A 1996Recent trends in the maximum and minimum temperature threshold exceedences in the north-eastern United States.J Climate916461657Google Scholar
  6. Etkin D (1997) Climate change and extreme events: Canada. Environmental Adaptation Research Group, University of TorontoGoogle Scholar
  7. Frich, P, Alexander, LV, Della-Marta, P, Gleason, B, Haylock, MK, Tank, AMG, Peterson, T 2002Observed coherent changes in climatic extremes during the second half of the twentieth century.Climate Res19193212Google Scholar
  8. Gao, XJ, Zhao, ZC, Ding, YH 2001Climate change due to greenhouse effects in China as simulated by a regional climate model.Adv Atmos Sci1812241230Google Scholar
  9. Gao, XJ, Zhao, ZC, Filippo, G 2002Changes of extreme events in regional climate simulation over east China.Adv Atmos Sci19927942Google Scholar
  10. Gemmer, M, Becker, S, Jiang, T 2004Observed monthly precipitation trends in China 1951–2002.Theor Appl Climatol773945CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gong DY, Wang SW (2000) Severe summer rainfall in China associated with the enhanced global warming. Climate Res (16): 51–59Google Scholar
  12. Groisman, PY, Karl, TR, Easterling, DR, Knight, RW, Jamason, PF, Hennessy, KJ, Suppiah, R, Page, CM, Wibig, J, Fortuniak, K, Razuvaev, V, Douglas, A, Rorland, E, Zhai, PM 1999Changes in probability of heavy precipitation: important indicators of climatic change.Climatic Change42243283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Guo, QY, Cai, JN, Shao, XM, Sha, WY 2003Interdecadal variability of east-Asia summer monsoon and its impact on the climate of China.Acta Geographica Sinica58569576(in Chinese)Google Scholar
  14. Heino, R, Brázdil, R, Førland, E, Tuomenvirta, H, Alexandersson, H, Beniston, M, Pfister, C, Rebetez, M, Rosenhagen, G, Rosner, S, Wibig, J 1999Progress in the study of climate extremes in northern and central Europe.Climate Change42151181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ho, CH, Lee, JY, Ahn, MH, Lee, HS 2003A sudden change in summer rainfall characteristics in Korea during the late 1970s.J Climate23117128Google Scholar
  16. IPCC (1995) Climate changes 1995: Contribution of Working Group I to the Second Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. pp 141–193Google Scholar
  17. IPCC2001Climate changes 2001: The scientific basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.Cambridge University PressCambridge, UK156159Google Scholar
  18. Iwashima, T, Yamatomo, R 1993A statistical analysis of the extreme events: Long-term trends of heavy precipitation.J Meteor Soc Japan71637640Google Scholar
  19. Karl, TR, Kukla, G, Razuvayev, VN, Changery, MJ, Quayle, RG, Heim, RR, Easterling, DR, Fu, CB 1991Global warming: Evidence for asymmetric diurnal temperature change.Geophys Res Lett1822532258Google Scholar
  20. Karl, TR, Knight, RW, Easterling, DR, Quayle, RG 1996Indices of climate change for the United States.Bull Amer Meteor Soc77279292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kendall MG, Gibbons JD (1981) Rank correlation methods, 5th edn. London, UK: Edward ArnoldGoogle Scholar
  22. Kohler, MA 1949Double-mass analysis for testing the consistency of records and for making adjustments.Bull Amer Meteor Soc30188189Google Scholar
  23. Manton, MJ, Della-marta, PM, Haylock, MR, Hennessy, KJ, Nicholis, N, Chambers, LE, Collins, DA, Daw, G, Finet, A, Gunawan, D, Inape, K, Isobe, H, Kestin, TS, Lefale, P, Leyu, CH, Lwin, T, Maitrepierre, L, Ouprasitwong, N, Page, CM, Pahalad, J, Plummer, N, Salinger, MJ, Suppiah, R, Tran, VL, Trewin, B, Tibig, L, Yee, D 2001Trends in extreme daily rainfall and temperature in southeast Asia and the south pacific: 1961–1998.Int J Climatol21269284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Osborn, TJ, Jones, PD 2000Airflow influences on local climates: observed United Kingdom climate variations.Atmos Sci Lett16274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Panofsky HA, Brier GW (1968) Some application of statistics to meteorology. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 224 ppGoogle Scholar
  26. Peterson, TC, Easterling, DR, Karl, TR, Groisman, PY, Nicholis, N, Plummer, N, Torok, S, Auer, I, Boehm, R, Gullett, D, Vincent, L, Heino, R, Tuomenvirta, H, Mestre, O, Szentimrey, T, Salinger, J, Førland, E, Hanssen-Bauer, I, Alexandersson, H, Jones, P, Parker, D 1998Homogeneity adjustments of in situ atmospheric climate data: a review.Int J Climatol1814931517Google Scholar
  27. Plummer, N, Salinger, MJ, Nicholis, N, Suppiah, R, Henhessy, KJ, Leichton, RM, Trewin, B, Page, CM, Lough, GM 1999Changes in climate extremes over the Australian region and New Zealand during the twentieth centuries.Climate Change42183202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Portman, DA 1993Identifying and correcting urban bias in time series surface temperature in China northern plains.J Climate622982308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Qian, W, Hu, Q, Zhu, Y, Lee, DK 2003Centennial-scale dry-wet variation in East Asia.Climate Dynamics217789CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Qian, WH, Lin, X 2004Regional trends in recent temperature indices in China.Climate Res27119134Google Scholar
  31. Ren GY, Chen ZH, Yang HQ (2005) Variation of precipitation and runoff in the Yangtze River catchment since 1960. In: Jiang T, King L, Gemmer M, Kundzewicz ZW (eds) Climate change and Yangtze floods. Beijing: Science Press, pp 224–234Google Scholar
  32. Shen HY (2005) The decadal scale variation of rainfall-runoff in the Yangtze River basin. In: Jiang T, King L, Gemmer M, Kundzewicz ZW (eds) Climate change and Yangtze floods. Beijing: Science Press, pp 235–245Google Scholar
  33. Wang, SW, Cai, JN, Zhu, JH, Gong, DY 2003Studies on climate change on China.Climate and Environmental Research7137145(in Chinese)Google Scholar
  34. Zhai, PM, Sun, AJ, Ren, FM 1999Changes of climate extremes in China.Climate Change42203218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhai, PM, Pan, XH 2003Trends in temperature extremes during 1951–1999 in China.Geophys Res Lett301913CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. D. Su
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. Jiang
    • 1
  • W. B. Jin
    • 3
  1. 1.Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Agronomy College, Yangtze UniversityJinzhouChina

Personalised recommendations