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CR 81:131-147 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01616

Drought frequency characteristics of China, 1981-2019, based on the vegetation health index

Jingyu Zeng1,2, Rongrong Zhang1,2, Yuehuan Lin1,2, Xiaoping Wu1,2, Jia Tang1,2, Pengcheng Guo3, Jinghan Li4, Qianfeng Wang1,2,5,*

1Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing of Soil Erosion and Disaster Protection/College of Environment and Resource, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou, 350116, PR China
2Key Lab of Spatial Data Mining & Information Sharing, Ministry of Education of China, Fuzhou, 350116, PR China
3School of Ecology & Environment, Hainan University, Haikou, 570000, PR China
4College of Geography and Tourism, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu, 241000, PR China
5Joint Global Change Research Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Droughts—major natural disasters with a complex development and evolution process—cause enormous losses for society, especially in the agriculture sector. We analyzed the spatiotemporal evolution of drought frequency in China at grid level during 1981-2019 with the nonparametric Mann-Kendall trend method, using a high temporal resolution vegetation health index dataset at week-scale. Results suggest the that (1) after entering the 21st century, China’s drought-affected area has declined, with Northeast China being the least affected region and Northwest China being the most severely affected; (2) the spatial pattern of drought characteristics in China is polarized, and the frequency of droughts has generally declined, with the most prominent intensity and frequency observed in some urbanized and economically developed regions; and (3) although the changes to the drought characteristics and frequency in China provide a generally optimistic picture, drought intensity and frequency in some developed regions have increased significantly, and the future trend predictions for these areas are less positive. This study, focusing on the spatiotemporal characteristics and evolution of drought patterns, with the aim of raising awareness of drought disasters, can help mitigate and prevent the damage caused by droughts to society, and can provide a scientific basis for drought early-warning systems and risk management in China going forward.


KEY WORDS: China · Vegetation health index · VHI · Drought intensity · Drought frequency · Change trend · Spatiotemporal patterns


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Cite this article as: Zeng J, Zhang R, Lin Y, Wu X and others (2020) Drought frequency characteristics of China, 1981-2019, based on the vegetation health index. Clim Res 81:131-147. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01616

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