Articles | Volume 17, issue 1
Research article
17 Jan 2013
Research article |  | 17 Jan 2013

Hydrological long-term dry and wet periods in the Xijiang River basin, South China

T. Fischer, M. Gemmer, B. Su, and T. Scholten

Abstract. In this study, hydrological long-term dry and wet periods are analyzed for the Xijiang River basin in South China. Daily precipitation data of 118 stations and data on daily discharge at Gaoyao hydrological station at the mouth of the Xijiang River for the period 1961–2007 are used. At a 24-month timescale, the standardized precipitation index (SPI-24) for the six sub-basins of the Xijiang River and the standardized discharge index (SDI-24) for Gaoyao station are applied. The monthly values of the SPI-24 averaged for the Xijiang River basin correlate highly with the monthly values of the SDI-24. Distinct long-term dry and wet sequences can be detected.

The principal component analysis is applied and shows spatial disparities in dry and wet periods for the six sub-basins. The correlation between the SPI-24 of the six sub-basins and the first principal component score shows that 67% of the variability within the sub-basins can be explained by dry and wet periods in the east of the Xijiang River basin. The spatial dipole conditions (second and third principal component) explain spatiotemporal disparities in the variability of dry and wet periods. All sub-basins contribute to hydrological dry periods, while mainly the northeastern sub-basins cause wet periods in the Xijiang River. We can also conclude that long-term dry events are larger in spatial extent and cover all sub-basins while long-term wet events are regional phenomena.

A spectral analysis is applied for the SPI-24 and the SDI-24. The results show significant peaks in periodicities of 11–14.7 yr, 2.8 yr, 3.4–3.7 yr, and 6.3–7.3 yr. The same periodic cycles can be found in the SPI-24 of the six sub-basins but with some variability in the mean magnitude. A wavelet analysis shows that significant periodicities have been stable over time since the 1980s. Extrapolations of the reconstructed SPI-24 and SDI-24 represent the continuation of observed significant periodicities at given magnitudes until 2030. The projected hydrological long-term dry and wet periods can be used for planning purposes in water resources management. The applied methodologies prove to be able to identify spatial disparities, and to detect significant periodicities in hydrological long-term dry and wet periods in the Xijiang River basin.