Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2016, Vol. 8 Issue (2): 157-171    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0022-3
Research Articles     
Spatio-temporal variation of hydrological drought under climate change during the period 1960–2013 in the Hexi Corridor, China
GAO Liming1,2,3, ZHANG Yaonan1,2*
1 Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000,China;
2 Gansu Data Engineering and Technology Research Center for Resources and Environment, Lanzhou 730000, China;
3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Download:   PDF(445KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      

Abstract  In recent years, climate change has been aggravated in many regions of the world. The Hexi Corridor is located in the semiarid climate zone of Northwest China, which is particularly affected by climate change. Climate change has led to the spatial and temporal variations of temperature and precipitation, which may result in hydrological drought and water shortage. Thus, it is necessary to explore and assess the drought characteristics of river systems in this area. The patterns of hydrological drought in the Hexi Corridor were identified using the streamflow drought index (SDI) and standardized precipitation index at 12-month timescale (SPI12) from 1960 to 2013. The evolution of drought was obtained by the Mann–Kendall test and wavelet transform method. The results showed that both the mean annual SDI and SPI12 series in the Hexi Corridor exhibited an increasing trend during the study period. According to the results of wavelet analysis, we divided the study period into two segments, i.e. before and after 1990. Before 1990, the occurrence of droughts showing decreased SDI and SPI12 was concentrated in the northern part of the corridor and shifted to the eastern part of the corridor after 1990. The probability of drought after 1990 in Shule River basin decreased while increased in Shiyang River basin. The wavelet analysis results showed that Shiyang River basin will be the first area to go through the next drought period. Additionally, the relationships between drought pattern and climate indices were analyzed. The enhanced westerly winds and increased precipitation and glacier runoff were the main reasons of wet trend in the Hexi Corridor. However, the uneven spatial variations of precipitation, temperature and glacier runoff led to the difference of hydrological drought variations between the Shule, Heihe and Shiyang River basins.

Key wordsgrazing      15N      13C      soil properties      desert grassland      plant properties     
Received: 31 March 2015      Published: 01 April 2016

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (91125005, 41271083, 41201062), the Incubation Foundation for Special Disciplines of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (J1210003/J0109), and the Open Fund Project of the State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering of China (SKLFSE201412).

Corresponding Authors: ZHANG Yaonan     E-mail:
Cite this article:

GAO Liming, ZHANG Yaonan. Spatio-temporal variation of hydrological drought under climate change during the period 1960–2013 in the Hexi Corridor, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(2): 157-171.

URL:     OR

Al-Faraj F A M, Scholz M, Tigkas D. 2014. Sensitivity of surface runoff to drought and climate change: Application for shared river basins. Water, 6(10): 3033–3048.

American Meteorological Society. 2004. Statement on meteorological drought. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 85: 771–773.

Azareh A, Rahdari M R, Sardoii E R, et al. 2014. Investigate the relationship between hydrological and meteorological droughts in Karaj dam basin. European Journal of Experimental Biology, 4(3): 102–107.

Bahramand A. 2014. Hydrological drought analysis using SDI index in Halilrud basin of Iran. International Journal of Environmental Resources Research, 1(3): 279–288.

Bonaccorso B, Bordi I, Cancelliere A, et al. 2003. Spatial variability of drought: an analysis of the SPI in Sicily. Water Resources Management, 17(4): 273–296.

Buttafuoco G, Caloiero T, Coscarelli R. 2015. Analyses of drought events in Calabria (southern Italy) using Standardized Precipitation Index. Water Resources Management, 29(2): 557–573.

Capra A, Scicolone B. 2012. Spatiotemporal variability of drought on a short-medium time scale in the Calabria Region (Southern Italy). Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 110(3): 471–488.

Chen X J, Jiang M J, Han T. 2012. Drought index contrast and climate analysis of five typical stations in Hexi Corridor region. Agricultural Research in the Arid Areas, 30(5): 216–222. (in Chinese)

Chen Y N, Ye Z X, Shen Y J. 2011. Desiccation of the Tarim River, Xinjiang, China, and mitigation strategy. Quaternary International, 244(2): 264–271.

Ding H W, Zhang J. 2004. Relationships between sustainable development and water resources in arid oases area-an example of Hexi corridor. Journal of Arid Land Resources & Environment, 18(6): 50–55. (in Chinese)

Ding Y J, Liu S Y, Li J, et al. 2006. The retreat of glaciers in response to recent climate warming in western China. Annals of Glaciology, 43(1): 97–105.

Ding Y J, Ye B S, Han T D, et al. 2007. Regional difference of annual precipitation and discharge variation over west China during the last 50 years. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences, 50(6): 936–945.

Falkenmark M, Carl W. 1992. Population and water resources: a delicate balance. In: Population Bulletin. Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau.

Fang C L, Bao C, Huang J C. 2007. Management implications to water resources constraint force on socio-economic system in rapid urbanization: a case study of the Hexi Corridor, NW China. Water Resources Management, 21(9): 1613–1633.

Gao Q Z, Du H L, Zu R P. 2002. The balance between supply and demand of water resources and the water-saving potential for agriculture in the Hexi Corridor. Chinese Geographical Science, 12(1): 23–29.

Gao X, Zhang S Q, Ye B S, et al. 2011. Recent changes of glacier runoff in the Hexi Inland river basin. Advances in Water Science, 22(3): 344–350. (in Chinese)

Guo X Q, Cao L, Lan X B. 2011. Spatiotemporal changes of precipitation and drought in Hexi Corridor. Journal of Arid Land Resources and Environment, 25(4): 74–78. (in Chinese)

Guttman N B. 1999. Accepting the standardized precipitation index: a calculating algorithm. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 35(2): 311–322.

He B, Lü A F, Wu J J, et al. 2011. Drought hazard assessment and spatial characteristics analysis in China. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 21(2): 235–249.

Ji X B, Kang E S, Chen R S, et al. 2005. Estimation of ground water budget at the representative irrigated area in the middle stream of Heihe River. Hydrogeology & Engineering Geology, 32(6): 25–29. (in Chinese)

Ji X B, Kang E S, Chen R S, et al. 2006. The impact of the development of water resources on environment in arid inland river basins of Hexi region, Northwestern China. Environmental Geology, 50(6): 793–801.

Kang E S. 2000. Review and prospect of hydrological studies in cold and arid regions of China. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 22(2): 178–188.

Karl T, Knight R W. 1985. Atlas of Monthly Palmer Hydrological Drought Indices (1931–1983) for the Contiguous United States. Asheville, NC: National Climatic Data Center.

Kendall M. 1975. Rank Correlation Methods. London: Griffin.

Labat D. 2005. Recent advances in wavelet analyses: Part 1. A review of concepts. Journal of Hydrology, 314(1–4): 275–288.

Li M S, Li S, Li Y H. 2003. Study on drought in the past 50 years in China. Agricultural Meteorology, 24(1): 7–10. (in Chinese)

Li S M, Cheng G D, Li Y H, et al. 2002. Rational Utilization of Water Resources and Eco-environmental Protection in the Hexi Corridor. Zhengzhou: The Yellow River Water Conservancy, 67. (in Chinese)

Li Z X, He Y Q, An W L, et al. 2011. Climate and glacier change in southwestern China during the past several decades. Environmental Research Letters, 6(4): 045404.

Liu C L, Allan R P. 2013. Observed and simulated precipitation responses in wet and dry regions 1850–2100. Environmental Research Letters, 8(3): 034002.

Livada I, Assimakopoulos V D. 2007. Spatial and temporal analysis of drought in Greece using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI). Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 89(3–4): 143–153.

Lloyd-Huhes B, Saunders M A. 2002. A drought climatology for Europe. International Journal of Climatology, 22(13): 1571–1592.

Ma M W, Ren L L, Yuan F, et al. 2014. A new standardized Palmer drought index for hydro-meteorological use. Hydrological Processes, 28(23): 5645–5661.

Madadgar S, Moradkhani H. 2013. Drought analysis under climate change using copula. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, 18(7): 746–759.

Manikandan M, Tamilmani D. 2015. Assessing hydrological drought charactertics: a case study in a sub vasin of Tamil Nadu, India. Agricultural Engineering, 1: 71–83.

Mann H B. 1945. Nonparametric tests against trend. Econometrica, 13(3): 245–259.

McKee T B, Doesken N J, Kleist J. 1993. The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales. In: Preprints Proceedings of the 8th Conference on Applied Climatology. Anaheim, CA: American Meteorological Society, 179–184.

Mitchell J M, Dzerdzeevskii B, Flohn H, et al. 1966. Climate change, WMO technical note no. 79. In: World Meteorological Organization, 79. Geneva, Switzerland.

Moron V. 1994. Guinean and Sahelian rainfall anomaly indices at annual and monthly scales (1933–1990). International Journal of Climatology, 14(3): 325–341.

Nakken M. 1999. Wavelet analysis of runfall-runoff variability isolating climatic from anthropogenic pattern. Environmental Modeling and Software, 14(4): 283–295.

Nalbantis I, Tsakiris G. 2009. Assessment of hydrological drought revisited. Water Resources Management, 23(5): 881–897.

Palmer W C. 1965. Meteorological drought. In: Research Paper No. 45. Washington, DC: U.S. Weather Bureau.

Shafer B A, Dezman L E. 1982. Development of a surface water supply index (SWSI) to assess the severity of drought conditions in snowpack runoff areas. In: Proceedings of the 50th Annual Western Snow Conference. Reno, Nevada: Western Snow Conference, 164–175.

Tabari H, Nikbakht J, Talaee P H. 2013. Hydrological drought assessment in Northwestern Iran based on Streamflow Drought Index (SDI). Water Resources Management, 27(1): 137–151.

Tao H, Borth H, Fraedrich K, et al. 2014. Drought and wetness variability in the Tarim River Basin and connection to large-scale atmospheric circulation. International Journal of Climatology, 34(8): 2678–2684.

Tsakiris G, Pangalou D, Vangelis H. 2007. Regional drought assessment based on the Reconnaissance Drought Index (RDI). Water Resources Management, 21(5): 821–833.

Vicente-Serrano S M, Beguería S, López-Moreno J I. 2010. A multiscalar drought index sensitive to global warming: The standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index. Journal of Climate, 23(7): 1696–1718.

Wang A H, Lettenmaier D P, Sheffield J. 2011. Soil moisture drought in China, 1950–2006. Journal of Climate, 24(13): 3257–3271.

Wang G X, Cheng G D. 1999. Water resource development and its influence on the environment in arid areas of China-the case of the Hei River basin. Journal of Arid Environments, 43(2): 121–131.

Wang H J, Chen Y N, Pan Y P, et al. 2015. Spatial and temporal variability of drought in the arid region of China and its relationships to teleconnection indices. Journal of Hydrology, 523: 283–296.

Wang J S, Feng J Y, Yang L F, et al. 2009. Runoff-denoted drought index and its relationship to the yields of spring wheat in the arid area of Hexi corridor, Northwest China. Agricultural Water Management, 96(4): 666–676.

Wang K L, Jiang H, Zhao H Y. 2005. Atmospheric water vapor transport from westerly and monsoon over the Northwest China. Advances in Water Science, 16(3): 432–438. (in Chinese)

Wang Y, Xiao H L, Wang R F. 2009. Water scarcity and water use in economic systems in Zhangye City, Northwestern China. Water Resources Management, 23(13): 2655–2668.

Wilhite D A, Glantz M H. 1985. Understanding: the drought phenomenon: the role of definitions. Water International, 10(3): 111–120.

Xu J H, Chen Y N, Li W H, et al. 2009. Wavelet analysis and nonparametric test for climate change in Tarim River Basin of Xinjiang during 1959–2006. Chinese Geographical Science, 19(4): 306–313.

Yeh C F, Wang J G, Yeh H F, et al. 2015. SDI and Markov Chains for regional drought characteristics. Sustainability, 7(8): 10789–10808.

Zamani R, Tabari H, Willems P. 2015. Extreme streamflow drought in the Karkheh river basin (Iran): Probabilistic and regional analyses. Natural Hazards, 76(1): 327–346.

Zhai J Q, Su B D, Krysanova V, et al. 2010. Spatial variation and trends in PDSI and SPI indices and their relation to streamflow in 10 large regions of China. Journal of Climate, 23(3): 649–663.

Zhai L X, Feng Q. 2009. Spatial and temporal pattern of precipitation and drought in Gansu Province, Northwest China. Natural Hazards, 49(1): 1–24.

Zhang J L. 2007. Barriers to water markets in the Heihe River basin in northwest China. Agricultural Water Management, 87(1): 32–40.

Zou X K, Zhai P M, Zhang Q. 2005. Variations in droughts over China: 1951–2003. Geophysical Research Letters, 32(4): L04707.
[1] LANG Man, LI Ping, WEI Wei. Gross nitrogen transformations and N2O emission sources in sandy loam and silt loam soils[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(5): 487-499.
[2] Mutawakil OBEIDAT, Muheeb AWAWDEH, Noor AL-KHARABSHEH, Ahmad AL-AJLOUNI. Source identification of nitrate in the upper aquifer system of the Wadi Shueib catchment area in Jordan based on stable isotope composition[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(4): 350-374.
[3] ZHANG Zhenchao, LIU Miao, SUN Jian, WEI Tianxing. Degradation leads to dramatic decrease in topsoil but not subsoil root biomass in an alpine meadow on the Tibetan Plateau, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(5): 806-818.
[4] DONG Yiqiang, SUN Zongjiu, AN Shazhou, JIANG Shasha, WEI Peng. Community structure and carbon and nitrogen storage of sagebrush desert under grazing exclusion in Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(2): 239-251.
[5] ZERAATPISHEH Mojtaba, AYOUBI Shamsollah, SULIEMAN Magboul, RODRIGO-COMINO Jesús. Determining the spatial distribution of soil properties using the environmental covariates and multivariate statistical analysis: a case study in semi-arid regions of Iran[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(4): 551-566.
[6] Junjie LIU, Xiaoping WANG, Yunfei GAO, Zhanlei RONG, Guangde ZHANG, Wenbin WANG, Lijuan GE, Yahua MAO, Zhaoxia GUO, Chuanyan ZHAO. Leaf gas exchange and photosynthesis curves of Elymus nutans and Potentilla anserina under fencing and grazing conditions in the Qilian Mountains, Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(3): 431-445.
[7] Mingming GUO, Wenlong WANG, Hongliang KANG, Bo YANG. Changes in soil properties and erodibility of gully heads induced by vegetation restoration on the Loess Plateau, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(5): 712-725.
[8] Xiaotao HUANG, Geping LUO, Feipeng YE, Qifei HAN. Effects of grazing on net primary productivity, evapotranspiration and water use efficiency in the grasslands of Xinjiang, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(4): 588-600.
[9] Xiaobing LI, Qi HUANG, Xue MI, Yunxiao BAI, Meng ZHANG, Xu LI. Grazing every month minimizes size but boosts photosynthesis in Stipa grandis in the steppe of Inner Mongolia, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(4): 601-611.
[10] Xu BI, Bo LI, Bo NAN, Yao FAN, Qi FU, Xinshi ZHANG. Characteristics of soil organic carbon and total nitrogen under various grassland types along a transect in a mountain-basin system in Xinjiang, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(4): 612-627.
[11] Zongyao SHA, Yichun XIE, Xicheng TAN, Yongfei BAI, Jonathan LI, Xuefeng LIU. Assessing the impacts of human activities and climate variations on grassland productivity by partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM)[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(4): 473-488.
[12] XIE Lina, CHEN Weizhong, Christopher A GABLER, HAN Lei, GUO Hongyu, CHEN Qing, MA Chengcang, GU Song. Effects of grazing intensity on seed production of Caragana stenophylla along a climatic aridity gradient in the Inner Mongolia Steppe, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(6): 890-898.
[13] Naima KOULL, Abdelmadjid CHEHMA. Soil characteristics and plant distribution in saline wetlands of Oued Righ, northeastern Algerian Sahara[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(6): 948-959.
[14] ZHANG Ke, SU Yongzhong, WANG Ting, LIU Tingna. Soil properties and herbaceous characteristics in an age sequence of Haloxylon ammodendron plantations in an oasis-desert ecotone of northwestern China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(6): 960-973.
[15] WEN Bin, ZHANG Xiaolei, YANG Zhaoping, XIONG Heigang, QIU Yang. Influence of tourist disturbance on soil properties, plant communities, and surface water quality in the Tianchi scenic area of Xinjiang, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(2): 304-313.