Articles | Volume 17, issue 7
Research article
23 Jul 2013
Research article |  | 23 Jul 2013

Drought evolution characteristics and precipitation intensity changes during alternating dry–wet changes in the Huang–Huai–Hai River basin

D. H. Yan, D. Wu, R. Huang, L. N. Wang, and G. Y. Yang

Abstract. Abrupt drought–flood change events caused by atmospheric circulation anomalies have occurred frequently and widely in recent years, which has caused great losses and casualties in China. In this paper, we focus on investigating whether there will be a rainfall occurrence with higher intensity after a drought period in the Huang–Huai–Hai River basin. Combined with the Chinese climate divisions and the basin's DEM (digital elevation model), the basin is divided into seven sub-regions by means of cluster analysis of the basin meteorological stations using the self-organizing map (SOM) neural network method. Based on the daily precipitation data of 171 stations for the years 1961–2011, the changes of drought times with different magnitudes are analyzed, and the number of consecutive days without precipitation is used to identify the drought magnitudes. The first precipitation intensity after a drought period is analyzed with the Pearson-III frequency curve, then the relationship between rainfall intensity and different drought magnitudes is observed, as are the changes of drought times for different years. The results of the study indicated that the occurrence times of different drought levels show an overall increasing trend; there is no clear interdecadal change shown, but the spatial difference is significant. (2) As the drought level increases, the probability of extraordinary rainstorm becomes lower, and the frequency of occurrence of spatial changes in different precipitation intensities vary. In the areas I and II, as the drought level increases, the occurrence frequency of different precipitation intensities first shows a decreasing trend, which becomes an increasing trend when extraordinary drought occurs. In the area III, IV and V, the probability of the different precipitation intensities shows an overall decreasing trend. The areas VI and VII are located at the mountains with high altitudes where the variation of different precipitation intensities with the increase in drought level is relatively complex. (3) As the drought times increase, areas I, II and V, which are located on the coastal and in the valley or basin, are vulnerable to extreme precipitation processes; areas III, IV, VI and VII are located in the inland area, where heavier precipitation is not likely to occur. (4) The local rainfall affected by multiple factors is closely related with drought occurrence. The characteristics between the first rainfall intensity after a drought period and different drought magnitudes (or drought occurrence times) are preliminarily examined in this paper, but its formation mechanism still requires further research.