Rapid urbanization and changes in spatiotemporal characteristics of precipitation in Beijing metropolitan area

Xiaomeng Song, Jianyun Zhang, Amir Aghakouchak, Shouraseni Sen Roy, Yunqing Xuan, Guoqing Wang, Ruimin He, Xiaojun Wang, Cuishan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


This study investigates changes in temporal trends and spatial patterns of precipitation in Beijing over the last six decades. These changes are discussed in the context of rapid urbanization and the growing imbalance between water supply and demand in Beijing. We observed significant decreases in precipitation amounts from 1950 to 2012, with the annual precipitation decreasing by 32% at a decadal rate of 28.5 mm. In particular, precipitation decrease is more pronounced in the summer and warm seasons when water use is at its seasonal peak. We further analyzed hourly precipitation data from 43 rain gauges between 1980 and 2012 to examine the spatiotemporal characteristics of both precipitation amount and intensity across six distinct subregions in Beijing. No significant spatial variations in precipitation changes were identified, but slightly greater amounts of precipitation were noted in the urban areas (plains) than in the surrounding suburbs (mountains), due to the effect of urbanization and topography. Precipitation intensity has increased substantially, especially at the hourly duration, as evidenced by the more frequent occurrence of extreme storms. The observed decreased water availability and the increase in extreme weather events require more integrated water management, particularly given the expectation of a warmer and more variable climate, the continued rapid growth of the Beijing metropolis, and the intensifying conflict between water supply and demand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11,250-11,271
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 16 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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