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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/cpd-10-3097-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 04 Aug 2014

Research article | 04 Aug 2014

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP). The revised manuscript was not accepted.

Long-term regional precipitation disparity in northwestern China and its driving forces

H. F. Lee, Q. Pei, D. D. Zhang, and K. P. K. Choi H. F. Lee et al.
  • Department of Geography and the International Centre of China Development Studies, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR

Abstract. Subject to the unique physical setting of northwestern China (NW China), precipitation in the region is characterized by salient regional differences. Yet, the long-term regional precipitation disparity in NW China still remains insufficiently-explored. In the present study, we base on historical documentation to reconstruct the precipitation indices of two macro regions in NW China between AD580–1979 to address the following issues: (1) determine the multi-decadal to centennial regional precipitation disparity in NW China, a topic which has not been systematically examined in previous paleo-climate/paleo-environment studies; and (2) find the major driving forces behind it. Wavelet analysis, which is ideal for analyzing non-stationary systems, is applied. Our results show that there is significant regional discrepancy of precipitation change in NW China over extended period. Although there is significant association between the regional precipitation disparity in NW China and various modes of atmospheric circulation, the association is characterized by a regime shift during the transition from the Medieval Warm Period to the Little Ice Age. Most importantly, the low-frequency cycle of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation is found to be the most prominent pacemaker of regional precipitation disparity in NW China at the multi-decadal to centennial timescales. Our findings help to demonstrate which atmospheric circulation is primarily responsible for the long-term regional precipitation disparity in NW China, which may have important implications for water resource management in NW China in the near future.

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H. F. Lee et al.
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