Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (1): 3-28.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1581-6

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Tracking climate change in Central Asia through temperature and precipitation extremes

Man ZHANG1,2(), Yaning CHEN2,*(), Yanjun SHEN3, Baofu LI4   

  1. 1. College of Resources and Environmental Science, Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang 050024, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China
    3. Key Laboratory of Agricultural Water Resources, Center for Agricultural Resources Research, CAS, Shijiazhuang 050021, China
    4. College of Geography and Tourism, Qufu Normal University, Rizhao 276826, Shandong, China
  • Received:2018-02-07 Accepted:2018-05-30 Online:2019-01-25 Published:2019-01-25
  • Contact: Yaning CHEN;
  • About author:

    Author: Zhang Man, PhD, specialized in extreme climate events in arid areas. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41630859;The CAS “Light of West China” Program, No.2015-XBQN-B-17


Under the impacts of climate change and human activities, great uncertainties still exist in the response of climate extremes, especially in Central Asia (CA). In this study, we investigated spatial-temporal variation trends and abrupt changes in 17 indices of climate extremes, based on daily climate observations from 55 meteorological stations in CA during 1957-2005. We also speculated as to which atmospheric circulation factors had the greatest impacts on climate extremes. Our results indicated that the annual mean temperature (Tav), mean maximum and minimum temperature significantly increased at a rate of 0.32oC/10a, 0.24oC/10a and 0.41oC/10a, respectively, which was far higher than the increasing rates either globally or across the Northern Hemisphere. Other temperature extremes showed widespread significant warming trends, especially for those indices derived from daily minimum temperature. All temperature extremes exhibited spatially widespread rising trends. Compared to temperature changes, precipitation extremes showed higher spatial and temporal variabilities. The annual total precipitation significantly increased at a rate of 4.76 mm/10a, and all precipitation extremes showed rising trends except for annual maximum consecutive dry days (CDD), which significantly decreased at a rate of -3.17 days/10a. On the whole, precipitation extremes experienced slight wetter trends in the Tianshan Mountains, Kazakhskiy Melkosopochnik (Hill), the Kyzylkum Desert and most of Xinjiang. The results of Cumulative Deviation showed that Tav and Txav had a significant abrupt change around 1987, and all precipitation indices experienced abrupt changes in 1986. Spearman’s correlation analysis pointed to Siberian High and Tibetan Plateau Index_B as possibly being the most important atmospheric circulation factors affecting climate extremes in CA. A full quantitative understanding of these changes is crucial for the management and mitigation of natural hazards in this region.

Key words: abrupt change, atmospheric circulation, climate change, climate extremes, spatial-temporal variability, Central Asia