Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 61, Issue 12, pp 1804–1817 | Cite as

Spatiotemporal evolution and driving factors of China’s flash flood disasters since 1949

  • Yesen Liu
  • Zhenshan Yang
  • Yaohuan Huang
  • Changjun Liu
Research Paper


This study examines the spatiotemporal evolution of China’s flash flood disasters (FFDs) since 1949 and explores driving factors affecting the spatial distribution of historical FFDs. Records of more than 60000 FFDs are examined, and the centroid comparison method is used to reveal the spatiotemporal evolution of FFDs from 1951 to 2015. In particular, the geographical locations of the centroids, degrees of aggregation, and associated movement tendencies are examined to conduct a preliminary analysis of correlations between rainfall, population, and the spatiotemporal evolution of FFDs. Subsequently, using relevant data from 2000 to 2015, three factors relating to FFDs in natural watershed units include namely rainfall, human activity, and the environment of the Earth’s surface. The geographical detector method is then employed to explore the effect of these driving factors on the spatial distribution of FFDs. Analysis results show that displacement of the spatial distribution of FFDs since 1949 is correlated with variations in rainfall and population distribution. In addition, it is determined that the distribution of FFDs occurring between 2000 and 2015 have regional differentiation characteristics. However, the effect of rainfall on the distribution of FFDs is more significant than that of human activity or the environment of the Earth’s surface, but interactions occur between these latter two factors in disaster-formative environments. Furthermore, results also show that the driving factors of FFDs have significant spatiotemporal heterogeneity. In China, regions at high risk of FFDs include the Sichuan-Chongqing ecological zone, the South China ecological zone, the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, and the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, while regions with a low risk of FFDs include the Northwest China arid zone, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Inner Mongolian Plateau, and the Northeast China ecological zone. These findings support further studies investigating disaster-formative environments, facilitate FFD risk zoning, and provide a scientific basis for plans to effectively prevent and control FFDs.


Flash flood disaster Centroid Driving factor Human activity Rainfall 


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This work was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDA19040402), the China National Flash Flood Prevention Project (Grant No. 126301001000150068), the Early Career Talent Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences ‘Youth Innovation Promotion Association of Chinese Academy of Sciences’ (Grant No. 2014042), the Kezhen Talent Program of IGSNRR, CAS (Grant No. 2016RC101), the Research on Spatio-Temporal Variable Source Runoff Model and its Mechanism (Grant No. JZ0145B2017), and the projects of Application of Remote Sensing on Water and Soil Conservation in Beijing (Grant No. Z161100001116102).


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yesen Liu
    • 1
  • Zhenshan Yang
    • 2
  • Yaohuan Huang
    • 3
  • Changjun Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower ResearchResearch Center on Flood & Drought Disaster Reduction of the Ministry of Water ResourcesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Lab of Regional Sustainable Development and Modelling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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