Potential contributions of climate change and urbanization to precipitation trends across China at national, regional and local scales

Xihui Gu, Qiang Zhang*, Vijay P. Singh, Changqing Song, Peng Sun, Jianfeng LI

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Climate change and urbanization collectively influence precipitation changes. However, their separate potential contributions to precipitation changes are not well understood due to their complex interactions. Hence, a “trajectory”-based method was used to separate their potential contributions across national, regional and local scales in China. Precipitation changes in non-urban regions can be regarded as representing the influence of climate change and can serve as a reference for isolating precipitation changes due to urbanization in urban areas. Our results revealed that climate change was the dominant factor for precipitation trends, while urbanization exhibited a relatively weak influence, especially for extreme precipitation at the national scale. At the regional scale, the impacts of urbanization on precipitation became more significant. About 20.2 and −30.6% of positive and negative trends in total precipitation originated from urbanization. At the local scale, the potential contribution of urbanization was strongly correlated with local environmental characteristics. Although there were differences in the potential contributions of climate change and urbanization at national, regional and local scales, climate change was the dominant factor for precipitation trends and urbanization acted as a regulator to drying or wetting due to precipitation under climate change. In general, urbanization causes a greater impact on total precipitation than on precipitation extremes. Due to this, attribution approach is static and broad-based and does not render the level of confidence that is needed for scale-aware attribution, future studies are needed to understand the physical mechanisms of impacts of local environment changes on precipitation trends at different geographical locations over China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2998-3012
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Volume39
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Atmospheric Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • precipitation trend
  • regional climate
  • urban climate

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