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The dual effect of vegetation green-up date and strong wind on the return period of spring dust storms

Feng, Jieling, Li, Ning, Zhang, Zhengtao, Chen, Xi
The Science of the total environment 2016
dust storms, global warming, grasses, models, normalized difference vegetation index, phenology, risk, risk assessment, shrubs, spring, vegetation, weather stations, wind speed, China
Vegetation phenology changes have been widely applied in the disaster risk assessments of the spring dust storms, and vegetation green-up date shifts have a strong influence on dust storms. However, the effect of earlier vegetation green-up dates due to climate warming on the evaluation of dust storms return periods remains an important, but poorly understood issue. In this study, we evaluate the spring dust storm return period (February to June) in Inner Mongolia, Northern China, using 165 observations of severe spring dust storm events from 16 weather stations, and regional vegetation green-up dates as an integrated factor from NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), covering a period from 1982 to 2007, by building the bivariate Copula model. We found that the joint return period showed better fitting results than without considering the integrated factor when the actual dust storm return period is longer than 2years. Also, for extremely severe dust storm events, the gap between simulation result and actual return period can be narrowed up to 0.4888years by using integrated factor. Furthermore, the risk map based on the return period results shows that the Mandula, Zhurihe, Sunitezuoqi, Narenbaolige stations are identified as high risk areas. In this study area, land surface is extensively covered by grasses and shrubs, vegetation green-up date can play a significant role in restraining spring dust storm outbreaks. Therefore, we suggest that Copula method can become a useful tool for joint return period evaluation and risk analysis of severe dust storms.