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Increasing Trend of Pan Evaporation over the Semiarid Loess Plateau under a Warming Climate

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  • 1 Institute of Arid Meteorology, and Key Laboratory of Arid Climatic Change and Reducing Disaster of Gansu Province, and Key Open Laboratory of Arid Climatic Change and Disaster Reduction, China Meteorological Administration, and Gansu Provincial Meteorological Bureau, and College of Atmospheric Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China
  • | 2 Hubei Meteorology Training Centre, China Meteorological Administration, Wuhan, and Institute of Arid Meteorology, and Institute of Arid Meteorology, and Key Laboratory of Arid Climatic Change and Reducing Disaster of Gansu Province, and Key Open Laboratory of Arid Climatic Change and Disaster Reduction, China Meteorological Administration, Lanzhou, China
  • | 3 Institute of Arid Meteorology, and Key Laboratory of Arid Climatic Change and Reducing Disaster of Gansu Province, and Key Open Laboratory of Arid Climatic Change and Disaster Reduction, China Meteorological Administration, Lanzhou, China
  • | 4 Institute of Arid Meteorology, and Key Laboratory of Arid Climatic Change and Reducing Disaster of Gansu Province, and Key Open Laboratory of Arid Climatic Change and Disaster Reduction, China Meteorological Administration, and College of Atmospheric Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China
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Abstract

In most parts of the world, pan evaporation decreases with increased air temperature rather than increases, which is known as the “evaporation paradox.” The semiarid Loess Plateau, which is sensitive to global climate change and ecological variations, has a unique warming and drying climate. The authors of this study consider whether pan evaporation shows the same decreasing trend in this unique environment. Meteorological observations of the typical semiarid Dingxi in the Loess Plateau from 1960 to 2010 were used to analyze the variation in pan evaporation and its responses to climatic factors. It was found that the pan evaporation has increased considerably over the past 50 yr, which does not support the evaporation paradox proposed in previous studies. A multifactor model developed to simulate the independent impacts of climate factors on pan evaporation indicated that the temperature, humidity, wind speed, and low cloud cover variations contributed to pan evaporation by 46.18%, 25.90%, 2.48%, and 25.44%, respectively. The increased temperature, decreased relative humidity, and decreased low cloud cover all caused an increase in pan evaporation, unlike many parts of the world where increased low cloud cover offsets the effects of increased temperature and decreased relative humidity on pan evaporation. This may explain why the evaporation paradox occurs. If all relevant factors affecting pan evaporation are considered, it is possible the paradox will not occur. Thus in warm and drying regions, the increased pan evaporation will lead to increasingly arid conditions, which may exacerbate drought and flood disaster occurrences worldwide.

Corresponding author address: Wenyu Wang, Department of Education, Hubei Meteorology Training Centre, East Lake East Road, No. 3, Wuhan, 430074, China. E-mail: wangwylzu@163.com

Abstract

In most parts of the world, pan evaporation decreases with increased air temperature rather than increases, which is known as the “evaporation paradox.” The semiarid Loess Plateau, which is sensitive to global climate change and ecological variations, has a unique warming and drying climate. The authors of this study consider whether pan evaporation shows the same decreasing trend in this unique environment. Meteorological observations of the typical semiarid Dingxi in the Loess Plateau from 1960 to 2010 were used to analyze the variation in pan evaporation and its responses to climatic factors. It was found that the pan evaporation has increased considerably over the past 50 yr, which does not support the evaporation paradox proposed in previous studies. A multifactor model developed to simulate the independent impacts of climate factors on pan evaporation indicated that the temperature, humidity, wind speed, and low cloud cover variations contributed to pan evaporation by 46.18%, 25.90%, 2.48%, and 25.44%, respectively. The increased temperature, decreased relative humidity, and decreased low cloud cover all caused an increase in pan evaporation, unlike many parts of the world where increased low cloud cover offsets the effects of increased temperature and decreased relative humidity on pan evaporation. This may explain why the evaporation paradox occurs. If all relevant factors affecting pan evaporation are considered, it is possible the paradox will not occur. Thus in warm and drying regions, the increased pan evaporation will lead to increasingly arid conditions, which may exacerbate drought and flood disaster occurrences worldwide.

Corresponding author address: Wenyu Wang, Department of Education, Hubei Meteorology Training Centre, East Lake East Road, No. 3, Wuhan, 430074, China. E-mail: wangwylzu@163.com
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