Natural Hazards

, Volume 77, Issue 3, pp 2027–2047 | Cite as

Space–time evolution of historical drought hazards in eastern China

  • Shixin Wang
  • Wenjun LiEmail author
  • Yi Zhou
  • Fuli Yan
  • Futao Wang
  • Wenliang Liu
Original Paper


Drought is one of the important topics of interest in meteorology, geography and history. In this study, drought index data of 531 years (1470–2000) from historical records are collected and organized. Eastern China which has been densely populated and prosperous throughout Chinese history is chosen as the study area. Geostatistical methods are used to represent the spatio-temporal distribution of drought hazards. The results show that the northern part of the study area has a higher frequency of droughts and the temporal variations of the distribution have characteristics of a climatic cycle. In order to consider both space and time dimensions, space–time permutation scan statistic method is introduced for drought hazard analysis in this study. With the method, 14 spatio-temporal clusters are detected in the data set. These clusters are grouped into five stages using the Space–Time–Cube model for visualization. An evolution trace of the high-frequency drought areas is depicted in the long temporal scale on the basis of the results. The trajectory rises spirally in the Space–Time–Cube and vacillates in both the north-west–south-east and north-east–south-west directions. The features of the trajectory are related to the variations in the East Asian summer monsoon and other climatic elements. The south-west region is still the high drought hazards incidence area in the current stage.


Historical drought hazards Space–time evolution Geostatistics Space–time permutation scan statistic Space–Time–Cube 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41301501 and 41201441) and the Special Foundation for Free Exploration of State Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science. We are grateful to the institutions and scholars who published the historical data. The authors are thankful to Professor Kulldorff for providing the software online for free.


  1. Academy of Meteorological Sciences CMB (1981) Yearly charts of dryness/wetness in China for the last 500-year period. SinoMaps Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  2. Álvarez J, Estrela T (2003) Regionalisation and identification of droughts in Mediterranean countries of Europe. In: Rossi G, Cancelliere A, Pereira LS, Oweis T, Zairi MSA (eds) Tools for drought mitigation in Mediterranean Regions, vol 44. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 123–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bai HZ, Dong AX, Zheng GF (2010) Yearly charts of dryness/wetness in Northwest China for the last 500-year period (1470–2008). Meteorological Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  4. Bradley RS (1991) Pre-instrumental climate: how has climate varied during the past 500 years? In: Schlesinger ME (ed) Developments in atmospheric science, vol 19. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 391–410Google Scholar
  5. Carrera-Hernández JJ, Gaskin SJ (2007) Spatio temporal analysis of daily precipitation and temperature in the Basin of Mexico. J Hydrol 336(3–4):231–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen ZH, Yang GF (2013) Analysis of drought hazards in North China: distribution and interpretation. Nat Hazards 65(1):279–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clegg SL, Wigley TML (1984) Periodicities in precipitation in north–east China, 1470–1979. Geophys Res Lett 11:1219–1222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Coulston JW, Riitters KH (2003) Geographic analysis of forest health indicators using spatial scan statistics. Environ Manage 31(6):764–773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Duffy KJ (2011) Identifying sighting clusters of endangered taxa with historical records. Conserv Biol 25(2):392–399Google Scholar
  10. Estrela MJ, Peñarrocha D, Millán M (2000) Multi-annual drought episodes in the Mediterranean (Valencia region) from 1950–1996. A spatio-temporal analysis. Int J Climatol 20(13):1599–1618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fu BJ (1991) Analysis of the geographical distribution and disastrous condition of drought in China. J Arid Land Resour Environ 5(4):1–8Google Scholar
  12. Gatalsky P, Andrienko N, Andrienko G (2004) Interactive analysis of event data using space-time cube. In: Proceedings of the eighth international conference on information visualisation (IV’04), IEEE, pp 145–152Google Scholar
  13. Ge QS, Zheng JY, Hao ZX, Liu HL (2012) General characteristics of climate changes during the past 2000 years in China. Sci Sinica Terrae 42(6):934–942Google Scholar
  14. Gebrehiwot T, van der Veen A, Maathuis B (2011) Spatial and temporal assessment of drought in the Northern highlands of Ethiopia. Int J Appl Earth Obs 13(3):309–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goovaerts P (1997) Applied geostatistics for natural resources evaluation. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Grinsted A, Moore JC, Jevrejeva S (2004) Application of the cross wavelet transform and wavelet coherence to geophysical time series. Nonlinear Proc Geophys 11:561–566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Guo QY, Cai JN, Shao XM, Sha WY (2003) Interdecadal variability of East-Asian summer monsoon and its impact on the climate of China. Acta Geogr Sin 58(4):569–576Google Scholar
  18. Hägerstrand T (1970) What about people in regional science? Pap Reg Sci 24(1):7–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hameed S, Yeh WM, Li MT, Cess RD, Wang WC (1983) An analysis of periodicities in the 1470 to 1974 Beijing precipitation record. Geophys Res Lett 10:436–439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Han LY, Zhang Q, Yao YB, Li YP, Jia JY, Wang J (2014) Characteristics and origins of drought disasters in Southwest China in nearly 60 years. Acta Geogr Sin 69(5):632–639Google Scholar
  21. Hao L, Zhang XY, Liu SD (2012) Risk assessment to China’s agricultural drought disaster in county unit. Nat Hazards 61(2):785–801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Holmes JA, Cook ER, Yang B (2009) Climate change over the past 2000 years in Western China. Quat Int 194(1–2):91–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hu Q, Feng S (2001) A southward migration of centennial-scale variations of drought/flood in eastern China and the western United States. J Clim 15:1323–1328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huang RH, Guo QY, Wu GX (1996) Distribution and variation of meteorological disasters in China. China Meteorological Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  25. IPCC (2012) Summary for Policymakers. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Kraak M-J (2003) The space-time cube revisited from a geovisualization perspective. In: Proceedings of the 21st international cartographic conference (ICC) “Cartographic Renaissance”, Durban, South Africa, pp 1988–1996Google Scholar
  27. Kulldorff M (2001) Prospective time periodic geographical disease surveillance using a scan statistic. J R Stat Soc Ser A 164(1):61–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kulldorff M (2014) SaTScan v9.3: software for the spatial and space-time scan statistics. Information management services Inc.
  29. Kulldorff M, Nagarwalla N (1995) Spatial disease clusters: detection and inference. Stat Med 14:799–810CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kulldorff M, Athas W, Feurer E, Miller B, Key C (1998) Evaluating cluster alarms: a space-time scan statistic and brain cancer in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Am J Public Health 88:1377–1380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kulldorff M, Heffernan R, Hartman J, Assunção R, Mostashar IF (2005) A space-time permutation scan statistic for disease outbreak detection. PLoS Med 2:216–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Li Q, Wei FY, Li DL (2011) Interdecadal variations of East-Asian summer monsoon and drought/flood distribution over eastern China in last 159 Years. Acta Geogr Sin 66(1):25–37Google Scholar
  33. Li Q, Wei FY, Li DL (2012) Evolution of east Asian summer monsoon during the last millennium. J Palaeogeogr 14(2):253–260Google Scholar
  34. Liu XW, Sun ZB, Ni Dh, Zeng G (2008) Classification of 531-year drought/flood type in Eastern China. J Nanjing Inst Meteorol 31(5):679–686Google Scholar
  35. Logan KE, Brunsell NA, Jones AR, Feddema JJ (2010) Assessing spatiotemporal variability of drought in the U.S. central plains. J Arid Environ 74(2):247–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lu HJ, Mo XG, Hu S (2012) Spatiotemporal variation characteristics of meteorological droughts in North China Plain during 1960–2009. J Nat Disasters 21(6):72–82Google Scholar
  37. Malizia N (2013) Inaccuracy, uncertainty and the space-time permutation scan statistic. PLoS One 8(2):e52034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mendoza B, Velasco V, Jáuregui E (2006) A study of historical droughts in southeastern Mexico. J Clim 19:2916–2935CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Naus J (1965) The distribution of the size of the maximum cluster of points on the line. J Amer Stat As 60:532–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Onozuka D, Hagihara A (2007) Geographic prediction of tuberculosis clusters in Fukuoka, Japan, using the space-time scan statistic. BMC Infect Dis 7:26. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-7-26 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Patel NR, Chopra P, Dadhwal VK (2007) Analyzing spatial patterns of meteorological drought using standardized precipitation index. Meteorol Appl 14(4):329–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Qian W, Hu Q, Zhu Y, Lee DK (2003a) Centennial-scale dry-wet variations in East Asia. Clim Dyn 21(1):77–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Qian WH, Chen D, Zhu Y, Shen HY (2003b) Temporal and spatial variability of dryness/wetness in China during the last 530 years. Theor Appl Climatol 76(1–2):13–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Qian WH, Zhu YF, Tang SQ (2011) Reconstructed index of summer monsoon dry-wet modes in East Asia for the last millennium. Chin Sci Bull 56(25):2075–2082Google Scholar
  45. Qian WH, Lin X, Zhu YF (2012) Global and China temperature changes associated with the inter-decadal variations of East Asian summer monsoon advances. Chin Sci Bull 57(26):2516–2522Google Scholar
  46. Qu YP, Li JQ, Lyu J, Su ZC, Qiu B, Li AH (2014) Quantitative framework for drought disaster risk assessment and the key techniques. Adv Water Sci 25(2):297–304Google Scholar
  47. Ramos MC (2001) Divisive and hierarchical clustering techniques to analyse variability of rainfall distribution patterns in a Mediterranean region. Atmos Res 57(2):123–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Raziei T, Saghafian B, Paulo AA, Pereira LS, Bordi I (2008) Spatial Patterns and Temporal Variability of Drought in Western Iran. Water Resour Manag 23(3):439–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ronberg B, Wang WC (1987) Climate patterns derived from Chinese proxy precipitation records: an evaluation of the station networks and statistical techniques. J Climatol 7:391–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Su GW (1999) Research on the dry-wet regional differentiation changes during the Past 500 years of North China. Quat Sci 5:430–440Google Scholar
  51. Tang ZY (1988) The reconstruction of climate in historical times for small area. In: Zhang JC (ed) The reconstruction of climate in China for historical times. Science Press, Beijing, pp 10–17Google Scholar
  52. Tatli H, Türkeş M (2011) Empirical orthogonal function analysis of the palmer drought indices. Agric For Meteorol 151(7):981–991CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Telesca L, Lovallo M, López-Moreno I, Vicente-Serrano S (2012) Investigation of scaling properties in monthly streamflow and Standardized Streamflow Index (SSI) time series in the Ebro basin (Spain). Phys A 391:1662–1678CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Telesca L, Vicente-Serrano SM, López-Moreno JI (2013) Power spectral characteristics of drought indices in the Ebro river basin at different temporal scales. Stoch Environ Res Risk Assess 27:1155–1170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Torrence C, Compo GP (1998) A practical guide to wavelet analysis. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 79:61–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tuia D, Ratle F, Lasaponara R, Telesca L, Kanevski M (2008) Scan statistics analysis of forest fire clusters. Commun Nonlinear Sci 13(8):1689–1694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Unal Y, Kindap T, Karaca M (2003) Redefining the climate zones of Turkey using cluster analysis. Int J Climatol 23(9):1045–1055CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Vadrevu KP (2008) Analysis of fire events and controlling factors in eastern india using spatial scan and multivariate statistics. Geogr Ann A 90(4):315–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Vicente-Serrano SM (2006a) Differences in spatial patterns of drought on different time scales: an analysis of the Iberian Peninsula. Water Resour Manag 20(1):37–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Vicente-Serrano SM (2006b) Spatial and temporal analysis of droughts in the Iberian Peninsula (1910–2000). Hydrol Sci J 51(1):83–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wackernagel H (2003) Multivariate geostatistics: an introduction with applications. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wang SW, Zhao ZC (1979) An analysis of historical data of droughts and floods in the last 500 years in China. Acta Geogr Sin 34(4):329–341Google Scholar
  63. Wang SW, Zhao ZC (1981) Droughts and floods in China, 1470–1979. In: Wigley TML, Ingrasham MJ, Farmer G (eds) Climate and history. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 171–288Google Scholar
  64. Wang JA, Mao J, Jia CH (2008) On spatiotemporal patterns of flood and drought hazards in China. J Nat Disasters 17(1):115–121Google Scholar
  65. Wei YH, Guo PW, Liu HB (2007) Feasibility on establishing girding dataset of the drought and flood by interpolation. Meteorol Disaster Reduct Res 30(3):1–6Google Scholar
  66. Wilhite DA (2000) Drought: a global assessment. Drought as a natural hazard: concepts and definitions. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  67. Xue JB, Zhong W, Zhao YJ, Peng XY (2005) Dry-wet distribution features of Guangdong Province during historical period. Sci Geogr Sin 25(4):79–84Google Scholar
  68. Yang T, Shao QX, Hao ZC, Chen X, Zhang ZX, Xu CY, Sun LM (2010) Regional frequency analysis and spatio-temporal pattern characterization of rainfall extremes in the Pearl River Basin, China. J Hydrol 380(3–4):386–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Yao CS (1982) A Statistical approach to historical records of flood and drought. J Appl Meteorol 21:588–594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Yao YB, Zhang Q, Li YH, Wang Y, Wang JS (2013) Drought risk assessment technological progresses and problems. Resour Sci 35(9):1884–1897Google Scholar
  71. Zhang DE (1988) The method for reconstruction of the dryness/wetness series in China for the last 500 years and its reliability. In: Zhang JC (ed) The reconstruction of climate in China for historical times. Science Press, Beijing, pp 18–30Google Scholar
  72. Zhang JC, Crowley TJ (1989) Historical climate records in China and reconstruction of past climates. J Clim 2:833–849CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Zhang DE, Liu CZ (1993) Supplement to yearly charts of dryness/wetness in China for the last 500-year period (1980–1993). Meteorology 19(11):41–45Google Scholar
  74. Zhang DE, Li XQ, Liang YY (2003) Resupplement to yearly charts of dryness/wetness in China for the last 500-year period (1993–2000). J Appl Meteorol Sci 14(3):379–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zhang Q, Chen JQ, Becker S (2007) Flood/drought change of last millennium in the Yangtze Delta and its possible connections with Tibetan climatic changes. Glob Planet Change 57(3–4):213–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zheng JY, Wang SW (2005) Assessment on climate change in China for the last 2000 years. Acta Geogr Sin 60(1):21–31Google Scholar
  77. Zheng JY, Zhang SH, Liu XL (1993) The regional division of drought/flood in China and the variation of drought/flood in each region for last 500 years. Chin J Atmos Sci 17(Suppl):112–121Google Scholar
  78. Zhu YF (2003) The regional division of dryness/wetness over eastern China and variations of dryness/wetness in northern China during the last 530 years. Acta Geogr Sin 58(Suppl):100–107Google Scholar
  79. Zhu JH, Wang SW (2001) 80a-Oscillation of summer rainfall over the east part of China and East-Asian summer monsoon. Adv Atmos Sci 18(5):1043–1051Google Scholar
  80. Zhu YM, Sun XG, Chen XY (2003) Application of wavelet analysis to climate prediction on drought and flood along the middle to lower reaches of Yangtze River. J PLA Univ Sci Technol 4(6):90–93Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shixin Wang
    • 1
  • Wenjun Li
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yi Zhou
    • 1
  • Fuli Yan
    • 1
  • Futao Wang
    • 1
  • Wenliang Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital EarthChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations