Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Spatio-temporal patterns of drought in North Xinjiang, China, 1961–2012 based on meteorological drought index


Drought, which is one of the most frequently occurring severe hazards with long time scales and covering wide geographical areas, is a natural phenomenon resulting in significant economic losses in agriculture and industry. Drought is caused by an imbalance between the inputs of and the demand for water which is insufficient to meet the demands of human activities and the eco-environment. As a major arid and semi-arid area and an important agricultural region in Northwest China, North Xinjiang (NX) shows great vulnerability to drought. In this paper, the characteristics of inter-annual and seasonal drought were analyzed in terms of drought occurrence and drought coverage, by using the composite index of meteorological drought and the data of daily precipitation, air temperature, wind speed, relative humidity and sunshine duration from 38 meteorological stations during the period 1961–2012. Trend analysis, wavelet analysis and empirical orthogonal function were also applied to investigate change trend, period and regional characteristics, respectively. In NX, annual and seasonal drought occurrence and drought coverage all showed a decreasing trend that was most significant in winter (with rates of –0.26 month/10a and –15.46%, respectively), and drought occurrence in spring and summer were more frequent than that in autumn and winter. Spatially, drought was severe in eastern regions but mild in western regions of NX. Annual and seasonal drought occurrence at 38 meteorological stations displayed decreasing trends and were most significant in “Shihezi-Urumqi-Changji”, which can help to alleviate severe drought hazards for local agricultural production and improve human livelihood. NX can be approximately classified into three sub-regions (severe drought region, moderate drought region and mild drought region), which were calculated from annual drought frequencies. The cross wavelet transform suggested that SOI (Southern Oscillation Index), AOI (Arctic Oscillation Index), AAOI (Antarctic Oscillation Index), PAOI (Pacific/North American Oscillation Index) and NAOI (North Atlantic Oscillation Index) have significant correlation with the variation of drought occurrence in NX. To prevent and mitigate the occurrence of drought disasters in NX, agricultural and government managers should pay more attention to those drought events that occur in spring and summer.


drought; spatio-temporal pattern; drought indices; North Xinjiang

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