Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (1): 23-42.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1362-z

• Orginal Article •     Next Articles

The spatio-temporal variations of frost-free period in China from 1951 to 2012

Xiaoju NING1,2(), Gangjun LIU3, Lijun ZHANG1, Xiaoyang QIN4, Shenghui ZHOU1, Yaochen QIN1,2,*()   

  1. 1. College of Environment and Planning, Key Laboratory of Geospatial Technology for Middle and Lower Yellow River Regions, Henan University, Kaifeng 475004, Henan, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, Henan Three New-Types Coordinated Development Center, Henan University of Economics and Law, Zhengzhou 450046, China
    3. College of Science, Engineering and Health, RMIT University, 124 LaTrobe Street, Melbourne 3000, Australia
    4. Institute of Geography, Henan Academy of Sciences, Zhengzhou 450052, China
  • Received:2016-07-06 Accepted:2016-08-30 Online:2017-02-10 Published:2018-01-04
  • Contact: Yaochen QIN;
  • About author:

    Author: Ning Xiaoju (1987-), specialized in sustainable development. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Qin Yaochen (1959-), Professor, specialized in a regional model on sustainable development and geographic information science. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Basic Program of China (973 Program), No.2012CB955800;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41671536, No. 41501588;Qinghai Key Laboratory Open Fund of Disaster Prevention and Reduction, No.QHKF201401;Key Scientific Research Projects in Colleges and Universities, No.17A170005


The frost-free period (FFP), first frost date (FFD) and last frost date (LFD) have been regard as the important climate variables for agricultural production. Understanding the spatio-temporal variations of the FFP, FFD and LFD is beneficial to reduce the harmful impacts of climate change on agricultural production and enhance the agricultural adaptation. This study examined daily minimum temperatures for 823 national-level meteorological stations, calculated the values of FFD, LFD and FFP for station-specific and region-specific from 1951 to 2012, estimated the gradients of linear regression for station-specific moving averages of FFD, LFD and FFP, and assessed station-specific time series of FFP and detected the abrupt change. The results as follows: at both the station level and the regional level, the FFP across China decreases with the increase of latitude from south to north, and with the increase of altitude from east to west generally. At the station level, the inter-annual fluctuations of FFD, LFD and FFP in south and west agricultural regions are greater than those in north and east. At the regional level, excluding the QT region, temporal changes of FFP are relatively small in both the low-latitude and the high-latitude regions, but for the mid-latitude regions. According to the linear trend gradients of the moving average values of station-specific FFD, LFD and FFP, FFD was delayed, LFD advanced, and FFP extended gradually over the 80% of China. Furthermore, the change magnitudes for FFD, LFD and FFP in the north and east agricultural regions are higher than that in the southern and western. Among the 659 station-specific time series of FFP examined by the Mann-Kendall test, 341 stations, located mainly in the north region, have one identifiable and significant abrupt change. And at the 341 stations with identified abrupt changes, most (57%) abrupt changes occurred during 1991-2012, followed by the periods of 1981-1990 (28%), 1971-1980 (12%), and 1951-1970 (3%). The spatio-temporal variations of FFD, LFD and FFP would provide important guidance to agricultural practices.

Key words: frost-free period, first frost date, last frost date, spatio-temporal variations, agricultural region, China