Research Articles

Trends in precipitation over the low latitude highlands of Yunnan, China

  • 1. Asian International Rivers Center of Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China;
    2. Yunnan Key Laboratory of International Rivers and Transboundary Eco-security, Kunming 650091, China
Fan Hui (1972-), Ph.D, specialized in global environmental change and remote sensing of environment. E-mail:

Received date: 2013-01-21

  Revised date: 2013-04-10

  Online published: 2013-11-14

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41061010; National Science and Technology Support Program, No.2013BAB06B03; No.2011BAC09B07


The precipitation regime of the low latitude highlands of Yunnan in Southwest China is subject to the interactions between the East Asian Summer Monsoon and the Indian Summer Monsoon, and the influence of surface orography. An understanding of changes in its spatial and temporal patterns is urgently needed for climate change projection, hydrological impact modelling, and regional and downstream water resources management. Using daily precipitation records of the low latitude highlands over the last several decades (1950s-2007), a time series of precipitation indices, including annual precipitation, number of rainy days, mean annual precipitation intensity, the dates of the onset of the rainy season, degree and period of precipitation seasonal concentration, the highest 1-day, 3-day and 7-day precipitation, and precipitation amount and number of rainy days for precipitation above different intensities (such as ≥10 mm, ≥25 mm and ≥50 mm of daily precipitation), was constructed. The Trend-Free Pre-Whitening Mann-Kendall trend test was then used to detect trends of the time series data. The results show that there is no significant trend in annual precipitation and strong seasonal differentiation of precipitation trends across the low latitude highlands. Springs and winters are getting wetter and summers are getting drier. Autumns are getting drier in the east and wetter in the west. As a consequence, the seasonality of precipitation is weakening slightly. The beginning of the rainy season and the period of the highest precipitation tend to be earlier. In the meantime, the low latitude highlands has also witnessed less rainy days, more intense precipitation, slightly longer moderate and heavy precipitation events, and more frequent extreme precipitation events. Additionally, regional differentiation of precipitation trends is remarkable. These variations may be associated with weakening of the East Asian summer monsoon and strengthening of the South Asian summer monsoon, as well as the "corridor-barrier" effects of special mountainous terrain. However, the physical mechanisms involved still need to be uncovered in the future.

Cite this article

FAN Hui, HU Jinming, HE Daming . Trends in precipitation over the low latitude highlands of Yunnan, China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2013 , 23(6) : 1107 -1122 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-013-1066-y


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