Effects of meteorological droughts on agricultural water resources in southern China
With the global warming, frequencies of drought are rising in the humid area of southern China. In this study, the effects of meteorological drought on the agricultural water resource based on the agricultural water resource carrying capacity (AWRCC) in southern China were investigated. The entire study area was divided into three regions based on the distributions of climate and agriculture. The concept of the maximum available water resources for crops was used to calculate AWRCC. Meanwhile, an agricultural drought intensity index (ADI), which was suitable for rice planting areas, was proposed based on the difference between crop water requirements and precipitation. The actual drought area and crop yield in drought years from 1961 to 2010 were analyzed. The results showed that ADI and AWRCC were significantly correlated with the actual drought occurrence area and food yield in the study area, which indicated ADI and AWRCC could be used in drought-related studies. The effects of seasonal droughts on AWRCC strongly depended on both the crop growth season and planting structure. The influence of meteorological drought on agricultural water resources was pronounced in regions with abundant water resources, especially in Southwest China, which was the most vulnerable to droughts. In Southwest China, which has dry and wet seasons, reducing the planting area of dry season crops and rice could improve AWRCC during drought years. Likewise, reducing the planting area of double-season rice could improve AWRCC during drought years in regions with a double-season rice cropping system. Our findings highlight the importance of adjusting the proportions of crop planting to improve the utilization efficiency of agricultural water resources and alleviate drought hazards in some humid areas.