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A comparison of heat wave climatologies and trends in China based on multiple definitions

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  • Qinglong You
  • Zhihong Jiang
  • Lei Kong
  • Zhiwei Wu
  • Yutao Bao
  • Shichang Kang
  • Dr Nick Pepin
Heat waves (HWs) can have disastrous impacts on human activities and natural systems, and are one of the current foci of scientific research, particularly in the context of global warming. However, there is no standard definition of a HW, which makes assessment of temporal trends a challenge. In this study, based on daily mean, maximum and minimum temperature, and relative humidity datasets from China Meteorological Administration, the patterns, trends and variations of HW in China during 1961–2014 are investigated. Sixteen previously published HW indices (HIs) are calculated, which are divided into two types using relative and absolute threshold temperatures, respectively. During 1961–2014, both relative and absolute threshold HIs show the highest number of HW in Jianghua and South China, geographically consistent with the climate characteristics of China. The majority of HIs shows negative/positive trends of HW days before/after 1990 over the whole of China, but especially in Jianghua and South China, which reflects rapid warming since 1990. There are significant correlations among different HIs in the same type (both absolute and relative), but correlations are weak between relative and absolute threshold HIs. Because relative and absolute HIs show contrasting trends, the choice of HI is therefore critical for future analysis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3975-3989
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number11-12
Early online date12 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • A comparison of heat wave climatologies

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    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 2.51 MB, PDF document

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