Drought characteristics and dominant factors across China: Insights from high-resolution daily SPEI dataset between 1979 and 2018

Sci Total Environ. 2023 Nov 25:901:166362. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.166362. Epub 2023 Aug 19.


Drought, a complex phenomenon exacerbated by climate change, is influenced by various climate factors. The escalating global temperatures associated with climate change, impact precipitation patterns and water cycle processes, consequently intensifying the occurrence and severity of droughts. To effectively address and adapt to these challenges, it is crucial to identify the dominant climate factors driving drought events. In this study, we utilized the 1979-2018 Chinese meteorological forcing dataset to calculate the daily Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI). The Theil-Sen and Mann-Kendall (M-K) tests were employed to analyze the spatial and temporal trends of drought severity and duration. Additionally, partial correlation analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between climate factors (precipitation and potential evapotranspiration (PET)) and drought characteristic (drought severity and duration). Through this comprehensive analysis, we aimed to identify the primary factors influencing drought severity and duration. The findings revealed the following key results: (1) Over the 40-year period from 1979 to 2018, drought trends in China and its seven climate divisions exhibited an increasing pattern. (2) During drought periods, most regions exhibited a positive correlation between PET and drought severity and duration, while precipitation demonstrated a negative correlation. However, certain areas experiencing severe drought displayed a negative correlation between PET and drought severity and duration, precipitation demonstrated a positive correlation with drought severity and duration. (3) PET emerged as the dominant climatic factor for meteorological drought in the majority of China. These findings contribute valuable insights for policymakers in the development of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. By understanding the dominant climate factors driving drought events, policymakers can implement effective measures to mitigate the adverse socioeconomic and environmental impacts associated with climate change.

Keywords: China; Dominant factors; Drought; PET; SPEI.