Geology Faculty Publications

Changing Characteristics of Precipitation in China during 1960–2012

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International Journal of Climatology


In this study, we investigated changes in the precipitation characteristics for China from 1960 to 2012 based on a recent daily precipitation dataset of 666 climate stations and robust non-parametric trend detection techniques. We divided all precipitation events into four non-overlapping categories: light, moderate, heavy and very heavy based on percentile thresholds. We then established the trends for annual total and precipitation of different intensity categories, and examined their regional and seasonal variations.

The results show that there was little change in annual total precipitation for entire China, but distinctive regional patterns existed. In general, precipitation increased in the west and decreased in east. Precipitation of different intensities, in general, changed in the same direction as the mean, but heavy and very heavy precipitation events had higher rates of change than mean precipitation. The exception was the southeast region, where despite the slight decrease in mean precipitation, heavy and very heavy precipitation still increased significantly. In addition, we used multiple regression models to explore the contribution of changes of frequency and intensity to total precipitation change, and the contributions of changes of precipitation at different intensities to total precipitation change.

For western China, total precipitation change was associated more with frequency change, whereas in eastern China intensity contributed more. For precipitation amount, moderate, heavy and very heavy precipitations contributed to the total change, with little contribution from light precipitation change.

For frequency, changes in light and moderate precipitation frequencies dominated the total change, with very little contributions from heavy and very heavy precipitation frequency changes. In addition, we examined the linkage between summer precipitation in eastern China and the East-Asian Summer Monsoon (EASM), found that the northern decrease and southern increase in summer precipitation was likely caused by the weakening of EASM over the study period.

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John Wiley & Sons





Peer Reviewed