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A potential predictor of multi - season droughts in Southwest China: soil moisture and its memory

Gao, Chujie and Chen, Haishan and Sun, Shanlei and Ongoma, Victor and Hua, Wenjian and Ma, Hedi and Xu, Bei and Li, Yang (2018) A potential predictor of multi - season droughts in Southwest China: soil moisture and its memory. Natural Hazards, 91 (2). pp. 553-566. ISSN 0921-030X

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During the last decade, several high intensity and long duration droughts happened in Southwest China (SWC) and resulted in tremendous socioeconomic losses. Meanwhile, it is well known that soil moisture (SM) plays a key role in land–atmosphere interaction and weather/climate prediction and is a direct drought index. Thus, a general analysis of SM is beneficial to drought research and prediction over this region. Based on the SM data of Global Land Data Assimilation System V2.0, we examined the temporal variations in SM in SWC during 1961–2012. Results show that significant soil drying trend happened in autumn accompanied by an evident abrupt change in 1991. Moreover, SM exhibits a strong and season-dependent persistence. Particularly, the autumn SM anomaly shows the strongest memory that can be sustained to the next spring. Along with the decadal shift of SM, the memory time of autumn SM can extend from 3 months before 1991 to 6 months in recent years. We further used the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) at multiple time scales to identify the droughts in different seasons over SWC, and the inter-annual change patterns of autumn SM and SPEIs are generally in agreement with each other, which confirms that SM is suitable for indicating the droughts. Our results suggest that the autumn SM can be a potential predictor of persistent droughts over SWC, especially for those multi-season persistent drought events started in autumn.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) > School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment
Depositing User: Victor Ongoma
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2019 03:10
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2019 03:10

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