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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 9156737, 11 pages
Research Article

Temporal and Spatial Evolution Features of Precipitable Water in China during a Recent 65-Year Period (1951–2015)

1College of Meteorological Observation, Chengdu University of Information Technology, Chengdu 610225, China
2Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Sounding, China Meteorological Administration, Chengdu 610225, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Hao Wang

Received 16 November 2016; Revised 24 February 2017; Accepted 14 March 2017; Published 26 March 2017

Academic Editor: Anthony R. Lupo

Copyright © 2017 Hao Wang and Jianxin He. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Water vapor in the atmosphere is not only an important greenhouse gas, but also an important factor that significantly affects the variations of global climate and water circulation. This study utilized the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and Climate Prediction Center Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP) reanalysis data to probe the temporal and spatial distribution features of atmospheric precipitable water (PW) in China during a recent 65-year period (1951–2015), and the relationship between PW and actual precipitation was also studied. The temporal and spatial distribution characteristics of PW in China presented an overall decreasing spatial trend from the southeast to northwest direction. The spatial distribution pattern of the first eigenvector demonstrated that the PW in China shows nationwide variation features with a varying amount of PW across different regions. The year 1967 was further identified as an important transition period for the temporal and spatial distribution characteristics of the PW. We also found that the PW had inherent variability of around 30 years. Regarding the relationship with precipitation, PW was most closely correlated with precipitation in the northeastern region and the upper northwestern region in China. Different regions displayed different efficiencies for converting PW to precipitation. The conclusions are useful for understanding the long-term water vapor evolution and its potential effects on precipitation in China.