Trends in the consecutive days of temperature and precipitation extremes in China during 1961–2015

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Background and aims:

Consecutive climatic extremes have more intense impacts on natural ecosystems and human activities than occasional events. There were many studies about the frequency or intensity of extreme weather events, but few focused on the consecutiveness or continuousness of climatic extremes. We analyzed the temporal and spatial distributions and tendencies in the consecutive temperature and precipitation extremes in China during 1961–2015.


Daily temperature and precipitation data at 1867 meteorological stations over China was used and four consecutive indices of climate extremes, i.e. cold spell duration indicator (CSDI), warm spell duration indicator (WSDI), consecutive dry days (CDD) and consecutive wet days (CWD), were calculated by RClimDex 1.0. Linear trends in the time series of consecutive days of temperature and precipitation extremes were examined and their statistical significance was evaluated using Mann–Kendall test.

Results and discussion:

There were obvious differences in the spatial distributions of consecutive days of climate extremes in China. During 1961–2015, CSDI and CWD decreased significantly at rates of 0.9 and 0.1 days per decade respectively, while WSDI increased significantly at rate of 0.8 days per decade in China. Spatially, CSDI decreased at rates of 0–3.0 days per decade in almost all parts of China, and WSDI increased at rates of 0–2.0 days per decade in most parts of China. The spatial trends of CDD and CWD were significant only in several regions of China. CSDI and WSDI had higher percent changes than those of CDD and CWD. Changes in the CSDI and WSDI were associated with large-scale oceanic and atmospheric circulation oscillations, such as Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). With global warming, there will be fewer cold extremes, more frequent hot extremes and precipitation extremes.


Given the increases in the frequency and intensity of some consecutive climatic extremes and an increasing physical exposure and socio-economic vulnerability to such extremes in China, more strategies and capacities of mitigation and adaptation to consecutive climatic extremes are essential for the local government and climate-sensitive sectors.

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