New Research Finds 2 Types of Drought Across China and How They Evolve

They found that both types of flash drought have increased significantly in the past 30 years.  (Image: via   pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
They found that both types of flash drought have increased significantly in the past 30 years. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Flash drought is a rapidly intensifying water deficit process accompanied by high temperatures over a short period of time. Recently, heat extremes have become more frequent in a warming climate, and have substantially increased the occurrence of flash drought, which threatens crop yields and water supply.

Dr. Linying Wang and Professor Xing Yuan, from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, used in-situ observations and reanalysis datasets to explore the long-term variability and trends of two types of flash drought. Their findings are published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

Type I flash drought is high-temperature driven, combined with increased evapotranspiration (ET) and decreased soil moisture, while type II flash drought is initialized by a lack of rainfall and combined with decreased ET and warmer temperatures.

They found that both types of flash drought have increased significantly in the past 30 years, but with a two-fold greater increase for Type I compared with Type II.

They further examined the spatial distribution characteristics of flash drought under two different physical mechanisms and the connection with seasonal drought, and uncovered some interesting findings. Dr. Linying Wang explains:

Professor Xing Yuan further explains that the perfect conditions for flash drought are during dry/wet transition periods, which may provide a basis for the early warning of flash drought by connecting multiscale drought phenomena.

Provided by: Chinese Academy of Sciences [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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