The 2009/10 drought in China: possible causes and impacts on vegetation



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Barriopedro Cepero, David and Gouveia, Célia M. and Trigo, Ricardo M. and Lin, Wang (2012) The 2009/10 drought in China: possible causes and impacts on vegetation. Journal of hydrometeorology , 13 (4). pp. 1251-1267. ISSN 1525-755X

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Several provinces of China experienced an intense drought episode during 2009 and 2010. The drought was particularly severe in southwestern and northern China, where the accumulated precipitation from May 2009 to April 2010 was about 25% less than normal. The decline of accumulated precipitation over northern China was mostly noticeable during the summer season of 2009 and it was comparable to recent dry episodes. The southwestern China drought resulted from a sequence of dry months from summer 2009 to winter 2010, corresponding to the driest event since at least 1951. The suppression of rainfall in summer over both regions was in agreement with a weakened broad-scale South Asian summer monsoon, possibly influenced by an El Nino developing phase, whereas the extremely negative phases of the Arctic Oscillation during the winter of 2010 may have contributed to the persistence of the drought in southwestern China. The assessment of the associated impacts indicates that water reservoirs were severely affected with a similar to 20% reduction in the nationwide hydroelectrical production during the drought event. Furthermore, an analysis of the normalized difference vegetation index data reveals that large cropland sectors of northern and eastern China experienced up to 8 months of persistently stressed vegetation between May 2009 and July 2010, while southwestern China was relatively less affected. Such different regional vegetative responses are interpreted in terms of the land-cover type, agriculture management, and their dependence on seasonal precipitation and water availability for irrigation.

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© 2012 American Meteorological Society. This study received support from the EU 7th Framework Program (FUME) Contract Number 243888 and from Portuguese Science Foundation (FCT) through the ENAC PTDC/AAC-CLI/103567/2008 project. LW is supported jointly by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant KZCX2-EW-QN204) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant 41025017). We thank J. L. Chen for calculating the water vapor flux and J. Cao for helpful discussions. The NDVI dataset was kindly supplied by VITO database (, USDA/FAS/OGA and NASA Global Agriculture Monitoring (GLAM) Project. Precipitation data were provided by the GPCC ( The hydroelectrical power production data were provided by the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI; NCEP-NCAR reanalysis were supplied by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD at Two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments that contributed to improve the manuscript.

Uncontrolled Keywords:Asian Summer Monsoon, Net Primary Production, Winter Monsoon, Tibetan Plateau, Atmospheric Circulation, Northern-Hemisphere, Satellite Data, Enso, Rainfall, Precipitation
Subjects:Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
Sciences > Physics > Astronomy
Sciences > Physics > Atmospheric physics
ID Code:24266
Deposited On:20 Jan 2014 10:13
Last Modified:10 Dec 2018 15:05

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