Skip to main content

Changes in mean and extreme temperature and precipitation over the arid region of northwestern China: Observation and projection

Abstract

This paper reports a comprehensive study on the observed and projected spatiotemporal changes in mean and extreme climate over the arid region of northwestern China, based on gridded observation data and CMIP5 simulations under the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios. The observational results reveal an increase in annual mean temperature since 1961, largely attributable to the increase in minimum temperature. The annual mean precipitation also exhibits a significant increasing tendency. The precipitation amount in the most recent decade was greater than in any preceding decade since 1961. Seasonally, the greatest increase in temperature and precipitation appears in winter and in summer, respectively. Widespread significant changes in temperature-related extremes are consistent with warming, with decreases in cold extremes and increases in warm extremes. The warming of the coldest night is greater than that of the warmest day, and changes in cold and warm nights are more evident than for cold and warm days. Extreme precipitation and wet days exhibit an increasing trend, and the maximum number of consecutive dry days shows a tendency toward shorter duration. Multi-model ensemble mean projections indicate an overall continual increase in temperature and precipitation during the 21st century. Decreases in cold extremes, increases in warm extremes, intensification of extreme precipitation, increases in wet days, and decreases in consecutive dry days, are expected under both emissions scenarios, with larger changes corresponding to stronger radiative forcing.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Alexander, L. V., and J. M. Arblaster, 2009: Assessing trends in observed and modelled climate extremes over Australia in relation to future projections. International Journal of Climatology, 29, 417–435.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alexander, L. V., and Coauthors, 2006: Global observed changes in daily climate extremes of temperature and precipitation. J. Geophys. Res., 111, D05109, doi: 10.1029/2005JD006290.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chen, H. P., 2013: Projected change in extreme rainfall events in China by the end of the 21st century using CMIP5 models. Chinese Science Bulletin, 58, 1462–1472, doi: 10.1007/s11434-012-5612-2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Donat, M. G., and Coauthors, 2013: Updated analyses of temperature and precipitation extreme indices since the beginning of the twentieth century: The HadEX2 dataset. J. Geophys. Res., 118, 2098–2118.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gao, X. J., Z. C. Zhao, and Y. H. Ding, 2003: Climate change due to greenhouse effects in northwest China as simulated by a regional climate model. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 25(2), 165–169. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Gao, X. J., J. S. Pal, and F. Giorgi, 2006: Projected changes in mean and extreme precipitation over the Mediterranean region from a high resolution double nested RCM simulation. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L03706, doi: 10.1029/2005GL024954.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gao, X. J., M. L. Wang, and F. Giorgi, 2013: Climate change over China in the 21st century as simulated by BCC CSM1.1-RegCM4.0. Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters, 6(5), 381–386.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gleckler, P. J., K. E. Taylor, and C. Doutriaux, 2008: Performance metrics for climate models. J. Geophys. Res., 113, D06104, doi: 10.1029/2007JD008972.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gupta, A. S., N. C. Jourdain, J. N. Brown, and D. Monselesan, 2013: Climate drift in the CMIP5 models. J. Climate, 26, 8597–8615.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huang, J. P., J. J. Ran, and M. X. Ji, 2014: Preliminary analysis of the flood disaster over the arid and semi-arid regions in China. Acta Meteorologica Sinica, 72(6), 1096–1107. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • IPCC, 2013: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1535 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ji, Z. M., and S. C. Kang, 2013a: Projection of snow cover changes over China under RCP scenarios. Climate Dyn., 41, 589–600.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ji, Z. M., and S. C. Kang, 2013b: Double-nested dynamical downscaling experiments over the Tibetan Plateau and their projection of climate change under two RCP scenarios. J. Atmos. Sci., 70, 1278–1290.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ji, Z. M., and S. C. Kang, 2015: Evaluation of extreme climate events using a regional climate model for China. International Journal of Climatology, 35, 888–902.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jiang, D. B., M. F. Su, R. Q. Wei, and B. Liu, 2009a: Variation and projection of drought and wet conditions in Xinjiang. Chinese Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, 33(1), 90–98. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Jiang, D. B., Y. Zhang, and J. Q. Sun, 2009b: Ensemble projection of 1–3° warming in China. Chinese Science Bulletin, 54, 3326–3334.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jiang, D. B., Z. P. Tian, and X. M. Lang, 2016: Reliability of climate models for China through the IPCC Third to Fifth Assessment Reports. International Journal of Climatology, 36, 1114–1133.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kharin, V. V., F. W. Zwiers, X. B. Zhang, and G. C. Hegerl, 2007: Changes in temperature and precipitation extremes in the IPCC ensemble of global coupled model simulations. J. Climate, 20, 1419–1444.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kruger, A. C., and S. S. Sekele, 2013: Trends in extreme temperature indices in South Africa: 1962–2009. International Journal of Climatology, 33, 661–676.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li, J., Q. He, J. Q. Yao, and W. F. Hu, 2014: The characteristics of climate change and the impact factors analysis in the western part of Inner Mongolia. Journal of Arid Land Resources and Environment, 28(5), 186–191. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Liu, S. Y., Y. J. Ding, Y. Zhang, D. H. Shangguan, J. Li, H. D. Han, J. Wang, and C. W. Xie, 2006: Impact of the glacial change on water resources in the Tarim River Basin. Acta Geographic Sinica, 61(5), 482–490. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Ren, Z. X., and D. Y. Yang, 2006: Study on the division and trends of temperature variation in Northwest arid area of China in recent 50 Years. Journal of Arid Land Resources and Environment, 20(1), 99–103. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Rusticucci, M., 2012: Observed and simulated variability of extreme temperature events over South America. Atmospheric Research, 106, 1–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shi, Y. F., and J. Zhao, 2014: Study on spatial-temporal characteristics of extreme temperature in arid areas of Northwest China. Journal of Lanzhou University (Natural Sciences), 50(4), 529–533. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Shi, Y. F., Y. P. Shen, and R. J. Hu, 2002: Preliminary study on signal, impact and foreground of climatic shift from warm-dry to warm-humid in Northwest China. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 24(3), 219–226. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Sillmann, J., V. V. Kharin, F. W. Zwiers, X. Zhang, and D. Bronaugh, 2013: Climate extremes indices in the CMIP5 multimodel ensemble: Part 2. Future climate projections. J. Geophys. Res., 118, 2473–2493.

    Google Scholar 

  • Song, L. C., and C. J. Zhang, 2003: Changing features of precipitation over Northwest China during the 20th century. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 25(2), 143–148. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Taylor, K. E., R. J. Stouffer, and G. A. Meehl, 2012: An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design. Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc., 93, 485–498.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tebaldi, C., K. Hayhoe, J. M. Arblaster, and G. A. Meehl, 2006: Going to extremes: An intercomparison of model-simulated historical and future changes in extreme events. Climatic Change, 79, 185–211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wu, J., and X. J. Gao, 2013: A gridded daily observation dataset over China region and comparison with the other datasets. Chinese Journal of Geophysics, 56(4), 1102–1111. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Wu, J., X. J. Gao, Y. Shi, and F. Giorgi, 2011: Climate change over Xinjiang region in the 21st century simulated by a high resolution regional climate model. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 33(3), 479–487. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Xu, C. H., Y. Xu, and Y. Luo, 2008: Climate change of the 21st century in Xinjiang with SRES scenarios. Desert and Oasis Meteorology, 2(3), 1–7. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Xu, J. Y., Y. Shi, and X. J. Gao, 2012: Changes in extreme events as simulated by a high-resolution regional climate model for the next 20–30 years over China. Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters, 5(6), 483–488.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Xu, Y., and C. H. Xu, 2012: Preliminary assessment of simulations of climate changes over China by CMIP5 multi-models. Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters, 5, 489–494.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Xu, Y., Y. H. Ding, and Z. C. Zhao, 2003: Scenario of temperature and precipitation changes in Northwest China due to human activity in the 21st century. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 25(3), 327–330. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Zhang, Q., Y. Q. Hu, X. Y. Cao, and W. M. Liu, 2000: On some problems of arid climate system of Northwest China. Journal of Desert Research, 20(4), 357–362. (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Zhang, X. B., L. Alexander, G. C. Hegerl, P. Jones, A. K. Tank, T. C. Peterson, B. Trewin, and F. W. Zwiers, 2011: Indices for monitoring changes in extremes based on daily temperature and precipitation data. WIREs Climate Change, 2, 851–870.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhou, B. T., Q. H. Wen, Y. Xu, L. C. Song, and X. B. Zhang, 2014: Projected changes in temperature and precipitation extremes in China by the CMIP5 multimodel ensembles. J. Climate, 27, 6591–6611.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhou, B. T., Y. Xu, J. Wu, S. Y. Dong, and Y. Shi, 2016: Changes in temperature and precipitation extreme indices over China: Analysis of a high-resolution grid dataset. International Journal of Climatology, 36, 1051–1066.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the World Climate Research Program’s Working Group on Coupled Modeling, which is responsible for CMIP, and thank climate modeling groups for producing and making available their model output. This research was jointly supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2012CB955900), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2016YFA0600701), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41675069).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Botao Zhou.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wang, Y., Zhou, B., Qin, D. et al. Changes in mean and extreme temperature and precipitation over the arid region of northwestern China: Observation and projection. Adv. Atmos. Sci. 34, 289–305 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00376-016-6160-5

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00376-016-6160-5

Key words

  • climate change
  • arid region
  • observation
  • CMIP5 projection