Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 743–759 | Cite as

Changes in rice disasters across China in recent decades and the meteorological and agronomic causes

  • Fulu Tao
  • Shuai Zhang
  • Zhao Zhang
Original Article


Both climate extremes and agricultural disasters have been reported to increase in recent decades; however, so far, we have little idea on the characteristics of agricultural disasters changes, as well as their meteorological and agronomic causes. Here, using the observed records on rice disasters at agro-meteorological stations across China and the meteorological indexes, we investigated the temporal and spatial changes of major rice disasters occurrence frequency and their relationships to climate change, climate extremes and agronomic practices from 1991 to 2009. We presented the temporal and spatial changes in occurrence frequency of major rice disasters, including droughts, floods, heat stress, chilling damage, insects and diseases, during the warmer period of 2000–2009, in comparison with the period of 1991–2000, based on both the observed records and the meteorological indexes. The results showed that changes in rice disasters could be largely ascribed to changes in climate extremes in recent decades. Floods, insects and diseases occurred more frequently at earlier growth stages; in contrast, chilling damage occurred more frequently at later growth stages in southwestern China during the period of 2000–2009, in comparison with the period of 1991–2000. Our findings highlighted the options should be taken timely and scientifically to reduce the disasters and to cope with ongoing climate change, based on the characteristics of agricultural disasters changes in recent decades.


Adaptation Disasters Chilling damage Droughts and floods Climate extreme events Heat stress 



This study is supported by National Science Foundation of China (Project Number 41071030), the National Key Programme for Developing Basic Science (Project Number 2010CB950902), and the science and technology strategic pilot projects of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Project Number XDA05090308). F. Tao acknowledges the support of the ‘‘Hundred Talents’’ Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. We are grateful to the two anonymous reviewers and editors for their insightful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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