In the last decade, a series of severe and extensive droughts have swept across Southwest China, resulting in tremendous economic losses, deaths, and disruption to society. Consequently, this study is motivated by the paramount importance of assessing future changes in drought in Southwest China. Precipitation is likely to decrease over most parts of Southwest China around the beginning of the century, followed by widespread precipitation increases; the increase in potential evapotranspiration (PET), due to the joint effects of increased temperature and surface net radiation and decreased relative humidity, will overwhelm the whole region throughout the entire 21st century. In comparative terms, the enhancement of PET will outweigh that of precipitation, particularly under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5, resulting in intensified drought. Generally, the drying tendency will be in the southeast portion, whereas the mountainous region in the northwest will become increasingly wetter owing to abundant precipitation increases. Droughts classified as moderate/severe according to historical standards will become the norm in the 2080s under RCP4.5/RCP8.5. Future drought changes will manifest different characteristics depending on the time scale: the magnitude of change at a time scale of 48 months is nearly twice as great as that at 3 months. Furthermore, we will see that not only will incidences of severe and extreme drought increase dramatically in the future, but extremely wet events will also become more probable.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Allen, R. G., M. Smith, A. Pereira, and L. S. Perrier, 1994: An update for the calculation of reference evapotranspiration. ICID Bull., 43(2), 1–34.
Barriopedro, D., C. M. Gouveia, R. M. Trigo, and L. Wang, 2012: The 2009/10 drought in China: Possible causes and impacts on vegetation. J. Hydrometeor., 13, 1251–1267.
Burke, E. J., S. J. Brown, and N. Christidis, 2006: Modeling the recent evolution of global drought and projections for the twenty-first century with the Hadley Centre climate model. J. Hydrometeor., 7, 1113–1125.
Byun, H.-R., and D. A. Wilhite, 1999: Objective quantification of drought severity and duration. J. Climate, 12, 2747–2756.
Chen, H. P., J. Q. Sun, and X. L. Chen, 2013: Future changes of drought and flood events in China under global warming scenario. Atmos. Oceanic Sci. Lett., 6(1), 8–13.
Chen, W., L. H. Kang, and D. Wang, 2006: The coupling relationship between summer rainfall in China and global sea surface temperature. Climatic and Environmental Research, 11(3), 259–269. (in Chinese)
Harris, I., P. D. Jones, T. J. Osborn, and D. H. Lister, 2013: Updated high-resolution grids of monthly climatic observationsthe CRU TS3.10 dataset. Int. J. Climatol., doi: 10.1002/joc. 3711.
Hayes, M. J., M. D. Svoboda, D. A. Wilhite, and O. V. Vanyarkho, 1999: Monitoring the 1996 drought using the Standardized Precipitation Index. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 80, 429–438.
Hayhoe, K., and Coauthors, 2008: Regional climate change projections for the Northeast USA. Mitig. Adapt. Strat. Glob. Change, 13, 425–436.
Hobbins, M. T., A. G. Dai, M. L. Roderick, and G. D. Farquhar, 2008: Revisiting the parameterization of potential evaporation as a driver of long-term water balance trends. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L12403, doi: 10.1029/2008GL033840.
Huang, R. H., Y. Liu, L. Wang, and L. Wang, 2012: Analyses of the causes of severe drought occurring in Southwest China from the fall of 2009 to the spring of 2010. Chinese J. Atmos. Sci., 36(3), 443–457. (in Chinese)
Hutchinson, M. F., 1998a: Interpolation of rainfall data with thin plate smoothing splines, Part I: Two dimensional smoothing of data with short range correlation. Journal of Geographic Information and Decision Analysis, 2(2), 139–151.
Hutchinson, M. F., 1998b: Interpolation of rainfall data with thin plate smoothing splines Part II: Analysis of topographic dependence. Journal of Geographic Information and Decision Analysis, 2(2), 152–167.
Li, Y. H., H. M. Xu, and D. Liu, 2009: Features of the extremely severe drought in the east of Southwest China and anomalies of atmospheric circulation in summer 2006. Acta Meteorologica Sinica, 25(2), 122–132.
Maurer, E. P., and H. G. Hidalgo, 2008: Utility of daily vs. monthly large-scale climate data: An intercomparison of two statistical downscaling methods. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 12, 551–563.
McEvoy, D. J., J. L. Huntington, J. T. Abatzoglou, and L. M. Edwards, 2012: An evaluation of multi-scalar drought indices in Nevada and eastern California. Earth Interaction, 16, 1–18.
McKee, T. B., N. J. Doesken, and J. Kleist, 1993: The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales. Preprints, 8th Conf. on Applied Climatology, Anaheim, CA, Amer. Meteor. Soc., 179–184.
McKee, T. B., N. J. Doesken, and J. Kleist, 1995: Drought monitoring with multiple time scales. Preprints, 9th Conf. on Applied Climatology, Dallas, TX, Amer. Meteor. Soc., 233–236.
Moss, R. H., and Coauthors, 2010: The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature, 463, 747–756.
Nath, D., W. Chen, L. Wang, and Y. Ma, 2014: Planetary wave reflection and its impact on tropospheric cold weather over Asia during January 2008. Adv. Atmos. Sci., 31(4) doi: 10.1007/s00376-013-3195-8.
Palmer, W. C., 1965: Meteorological drought. U.S. Department of Commerce Research Paper 45, 58 pp.
Peng, J. B., Q. Y. Zhang, and C. Bueh, 2007: On the characteristics and possible causes of a severe drought and heat wave in the Sichuan-Chongqing region in 2006. Climatic and Environmental Research, 12(3), 464–474. (in Chinese)
Qiu, J., 2010: China drought highlights future climate threats. Nature, 465, 142–143.
Ren, G. Y., J. Guo, M. Z. Xu, Z. Y. Chu, L. Zhang, X. K. Zou, Q. X. Li, and X. N. Liu, 2005: Climate changes of China’s mainland over the past half century. Acta Meteorologica Sinica, 63(6), 942–956. (in Chinese)
Sun, L., F. M. Ren, Z. Y. Wang, Y. Y. Liu, Y. J. Liu, P. L. Wang, and D. Q. Wang, 2012: Analysis of climate anomaly and causation in August 2011. Meteorological Monthly, 38(5), 615–622. (in Chinese)
Taylor, K. E., R. J. Stouffer, and G. A. Meehl, 2012: An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 93, 485–498.
Thornthwaite, C. W., 1948: An approach toward a rational classification of climate, Geogr. Rev., 38, 55–94.
Trewin, B. C., 2007: The role of climatological normals in a changing climate.World Climate Data and Monitoring Programme, WCDMP-No.61, WMO/TD No. 1377, 34 pp.
van der Schrier, G., P. D. Jones, and K. R. Briffa, 2011: The sensitivity of the PDSI to the Thornthwaite and Penman-Monteith parameterizations for potential evapotranspiration. J. Geophys. Res., 116, D03106, doi: 10.1029/2010JD015001.
Vicente-Serrano, S. M., S. Beguería, and J. I. López-Moreno, 2009: A multiscalar drought index sensitive to global warming: The Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index. J. Climate, 23, 1696–1718, doi: 10.1175/2009JCLI 2909.1.
Vicente-Serrano, S. M., S. Beguería, J. I. López-Moreno, M. Angulo, and A. El Kenawy, 2010: A new global 0.5° gridded dataset (1901–2006) of a multiscalar drought index: Comparison with current drought index datasets based on the Palmer Drought Severity Index. J. Hydrometeor., 11, 1033–1043, doi: 10.1175/2010JHM1224.1.
Vicente-Serrano, S. M., S. Beguería, and J. I. López-Moreno, 2011: Comment on “Characteristics and trends in various forms of the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) during 1900–2008” by Aiguo Dai. J. Geophys. Res., 116, D19112, doi: 10.1029/2011JD016410.
Vicente-Serrano, S. M., and Coauthors, 2012: Performance of drought indices for ecological, agricultural and hydrological applications. Earth Interaction, 16, 1–27.
Wang, L., and W. Chen, 2012: Characteristics of multi-timescale variabilities of the drought over last 100 years in Southwest China. Advances in Meteorological Science and Technology, 2(4), 21–26. (in Chinese)
Wang, L., and W. Chen, 2013: Application of bias correction and spatial disaggregation in removing model biases and downscaling over China. Advances in Earth Science, 28(10), 1144–1153. (in Chinese)
Wang, L., and W. Chen, 2014: Applicability analysis of Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index in drought monitoring in China. Plateau Meteorology, 33(2), 423–431. (in Chinese)
Wang, Z., F. Ren, L. Sun, Y. Liu, P. Wang, J. Tang, D. Wang, and D. Li, 2012: Analysis of climate anomaly and causation in summer 2011. Meteorological Monthly, 38(4), 448–455. (in Chinese)
Wei, K., W. Chen, and W. Zhou, 2011: Changes in the East Asian cold season since 2000. Adv. Atmos. Sci., 28(1), 69–79, doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-9232-y.
Wells, N., S. Goddard, and M. J. Hayes, 2004: A self-calibrating palmer drought severity index. J. Climate, 17, 2335–2351.
Widmann, M., C. S. Bretherton, and E. P. Salathé, 2003: Statistical precipitation downscaling over the northwestern United States using numerically simulated precipitation as a predictor. J. Climate, 16, 799–816.
Wilhite, D., 2006: Drought monitoring and early warning: Concepts, progress and future challenges. WMO-No. 1006, 24 pp.
Wood, A. W., E. P. Maurer, A. Kumar, and D. P. Lettenmaier, 2002: Long-range experimental hydrologic forecasting for the eastern United States. J. Geophys. Res., 107, doi: 10.1029/2001JD000659.
Wood, A. W., L. R. Leung, V. Sridhar, and D. P. Lettenmaier, 2004: Hydrologic implications of dynamical and statistical approaches to downscaling climate model outputs. Climate Change, 62, 189–216, doi: 10.1023/B:CLIM.0000013685.99609.9e.
Xu, C. H., and Y. Xu, 2012: The projection of temperature and precipitation over China under RCP scenarios using a CMIP5 multi-model ensemble. Atmos. Oceanic Sci. Lett., 5(6), 527–533.
Yang, J., D. Gong, W. Wang, M. Hu, and R. Mao, 2012: Extreme drought event of 2009/2010 over southwestern China. Meteor. Atmos. Phys., 115, 173–184, doi: 10.1007/s00703-011-0172-6a.
Ye, T., P. Shi, J. Wang, L. Liu, Y. Fan, and J. Hu, 2012: China’s drought disaster risk management: Perspective of severe droughts in 2009–2010. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, 3, 84–97, doi: 10.1007/s13753-012-0009-z.
Yuan, F., W. Chen, and W. Zhou, 2012: Analysis of the role played by circulation in the persistent precipitation over South China in June 2010. Adv. Atmos. Sci., 29(4), 769–781, doi: 10.1007/s00376-012-2018-7.
Zhang, J., L. Jiang, Z. Feng, and P. Li, 2012a: Detecting effects of the recent drought on vegetation in southwestern China. Journal of Resources and Ecology, 3, 43–49.
Zhang, L., J. F. Xiao, J. Li, K. Wang, L. P. Lei and H. D. Guo, 2012b: The 2010 spring drought reduced primary productivity in southwestern China. Environ. Res. Lett., 7, 045706, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/045706.
Zhang, M., J. He, B. Wang, S. Wang, S. Li, W. Liu, and X. Ma, 2013a: Extreme drought changes in Southwest China from 1960 to 2009. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 23(1), 3–16, doi: 10.1007/s11442-013-0989-7.
Zhang, W. J., F. F. Jin, J. X. Zhao, L. Qi, and H. L. Ren, 2013b: The possible influence of a non-conventional El Niño on the severe autumn drought of 2009 in Southwest China. J. Climate, 26, 8392–8405. doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00851.1.
Zhou, W., C. Li, and J. C. L. Chan, 2006: The interdecadal variations of the summer monsoon rainfall over South China. Meteor. Atmos. Phys., 93, 165–175, doi: 10.1007/s00703-006-0184-9.
Zhou, W., J. C. L. Chan, W. Chen, J. Ling, J. G. Pinto, and Y. Shao, 2009: Synoptic-scale controls of persistent low temperature and icy weather over southern China in January 2008. Mon. Wea. Rev., 137, 3978–3991, doi: 10.1175/2009MWR2952.1.
Electronic supplementary material
About this article
Cite this article
Wang, L., Chen, W. & Zhou, W. Assessment of future drought in Southwest China based on CMIP5 multimodel projections. Adv. Atmos. Sci. 31, 1035–1050 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00376-014-3223-3