Effect of climate change on the centennial drought over China using high-resolution NASA-NEX downscaled climate ensemble data

  • Fuqiang Cao
  • Tao GaoEmail author
Original Paper


The impacts of climate change on future drought properties in various regions across China are accessed using multiple statistical approaches, based on 20 downscaled global climate models provided by NASA (NEX-GDDP) under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 and RCP8.5 emission scenarios. Results show that temperature plays a crucial role on the variability of drought conditions in China by comparing the discrepancies between Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI). Unobvious variability of drought extent is projected for SPI, while the drought extent for SPEI is remarkable. Based on SPEI, a considerable aggravation in spatial extent and severity of future drought events are found in the majority of regions, particularly in northwest and northeast China, except for winter over northeast region. The drought extent increases more significantly after late 2070s under RCP8.5 scenario, and the differences of drought extent are not significant between RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios in the early and mid-twenty-first century. More than 85% of the regions show a decreasing trend for SPEI in spring, summer, and autumn, suggesting drought tendency in most of China, and drought frequency also increases significantly in north and northwest China except for winter. The dramatic aggravation of drought attribution is mainly projected to the increases in potential evapotranspiration (PET) in northwestern and northern regions of China, whereas in northwestern region, the exacerbating drought conditions are expected to the attribution of deficiencies of rainfall. At national scale, PET plays a more dominant role to the future severe and widespread droughts across China in the context of climate change.


Funding information

This study is jointly supported by Natural Science Foundation and Sci-tech development project of Shandong Province (No. ZR2018MD014; J18KA210), Project funded by China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2017T100103), and the Young Academic Backbone in Heze University (No. XY14BS05). NEX-GDDP dataset is provided by Climate Analytics Group and NASA Ames Research Center using the NASA Earth Exchange.

Supplementary material

704_2019_2895_MOESM1_ESM.doc (66 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 66 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of GeosciencesShanxi Normal UniversityLinfenChina
  2. 2.College of Urban ConstructionHeze UniversityHezeChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.North Carolina State UniversityDepartment of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric SciencesRaleighUSA

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