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Journal of Arid Land  2013, Vol. 5 Issue (1): 1-14    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0136-4
Research Articles     
Drought changes and the mechanism analysis for the North American Prairie
Ge YU1, Dave SAUCHYN2, YongFei LI1
1 State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China;
2 Prairie Adaptation and Research Collaborative, University of Regina, Regina S4S 7J7, Canada
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Abstract  The worst droughts in the central part of the North American Prairie in the past several hundred years have been reconstructed from tree-ring chronologies, suggesting that some drought years have exceeded the se-verity shown by the gauge record. A general circulation model of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) has simulated climate changes for the area during the past 250 years driven by climatic forces, providing scenarios of extreme climate that can further diagnose the mechanisms. This study refined the drought signals from the tree ring data and GFDL modeling at inter-annual and decadal time scales and analyzed the potential mecha-nisms driving the droughts. Results showed that drought years with summer precipitation lower than the 10th per-centiles occurred during 1777–1789, 1847–1861 and 1886–1879 AD in the area. Both tree rings and model re-vealed that the frequency of droughts has been relatively consistent in a similar timing and frequency with climate change. Monte Carlo analysis have detected that the tree ring chronologies have recorded drought years with probabilities of 9.3%–12.8%, and the model has simulated the droughts with probabilities 5.7%–17.8%. Under CO2 and aerosol forcing, the GFDL modeled the drought recurrences of 13 years and 25 years, which are very syn-chronous changes with tree rings and consistent with gauge records. The 20-a and 10-a time scale reoccurrences of droughts are very consistent with solar radiation cycles, and similar to the length of cycles in oceanic records, suggesting that terrestrial precipitation modeling is properly driven from sun-land-sea dynamics. Detected severity, variability and return periods of droughts from the present study make potential improvements in drought predictions and constructing scenarios for climate impacts and adaptation strategies.

Key words snow leopard      Panthera uncia      sign survey      habitat preferences      Tomur National Nature Reserve     
Received: 05 April 2012      Published: 06 March 2013

Global Change Research Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2012CB956103), International Partnership Program and External Cooperation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZZD-EW-TZ-08, GJHZ1214) and Key Directional Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZCX2-YW- 338-2).

Corresponding Authors: Ge YU     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Ge YU, Dave SAUCHYN, YongFei LI. Drought changes and the mechanism analysis for the North American Prairie. Journal of Arid Land, 2013, 5(1): 1-14.

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