Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2016, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (6): 477-484.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2016.00477

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Revisit of event-based rainfall characteristics at Shapotou area in northern China

XinPing Wang1, YaFeng Zhang1, Rui Hu1, YanXia Pan1, HaoJie Xu1, Wei Shi1, YanXia Jin1, Hiroshi Yasuda2   

  1. 1. Shapotou Desert Research and Experiment Station, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China;
    2. Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University, 1390 Hamasaka Tottori, 680-0001 Japan
  • Received:2016-05-30 Revised:2016-07-22 Published:2018-11-23
  • Contact: XinPing Wang, Professor of Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences. No. 320, West Donggang Road, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41530750, 41501108 and 41371101). The authors are indebted to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments and suggestions for improving the manuscript. We are very grateful to Professor B. Ubi for his careful reading and correcting of the manuscript.

Abstract: Distribution of rainfall event sizes and interval lengths between events are important characteristics of arid and semi-arid climates. Understanding their importance will contribute to our ability to understand ecosystem dynamics in these regions. Rainfall event timing and magnitude are important drivers of ecosystem processes and are instrumental in creating landscape heterogeneity in arid and semi-arid regions. Rainfall event characteristics were analyzed using an automatic tipping-bucket rain-gauge record across the entire summer monsoon season from 2008 to 2015 at the arid desert area of Shapotou in the Tengger Desert, China. Changing the minimum inter-event time (MIT) from 30 min to 24 h alters the number of rainfall events from 64 to 25 for the event depth larger than 0.1 mm. The mean rainfall intensity declined from 0.95 mm/h to 0.53 mm/h, and the geometric mean event duration rose from 0.55 h to 4.4 h. The number of rainfall events, mean rainfall intensity, and geometric mean event duration differed under different criteria of individual rainfall depths, except that for an individual rainfall depth of 0.5, 1.0, and 5.0 mm. The aforementioned features differed only at the lowest range of the mean rainfall intensity and depth for MIT=3 and 6 h. These findings suggest that identification of event-based rainfall in this specific arid region can be better achieved by setting the MIT at six hours. The wide variation in rainfall event properties indicate the need for paying more attention to the proper selection and reporting of event criteria in studies that adopt event-based data analysis. This is especially true in quantifying effective rainfall for soil water replenishment in terms of rainfall depth and intensity with infrequent rainfall events.

Key words: arid and semi-arid regions, desert ecosystems, rainfall event, Shapotou area in northern China

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