Reanalysis data underestimate significant changes in growing season weather in Kazakhstan

C. K. Wright, K. M. De Beurs, Z. K. Akhmadieva, P. Y. Groisman, G. M. Henebry

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19 Scopus citations


We present time series analyses of recently compiled climate station data which allowed us to assess contemporary trends in growing season weather across Kazakhstan as drivers of a significant decline in growing season normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) recently observed by satellite remote sensing across much of Central Asia. We used a robust nonparametric time series analysis method, the seasonal Kendall trend test to analyze georeferenced time series of accumulated growing season precipitation (APPT) and accumulated growing degree-days (AGDD). Over the period 2000-2006 we found geographically extensive, statistically significant (p<0.05) decreasing trends in APPT and increasing trends in AGDD. The temperature trends were especially apparent during the warm season and coincided with precipitation decreases in northwest Kazakhstan, indicating that pervasive drought conditions and higher temperature excursions were the likely drivers of NDVI declines observed in Kazakhstan over the same period. We also compared the APPT and AGDD trends at individual stations with results from trend analysis of gridded monthly precipitation data from the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC) Full Data Reanalysis v4 and gridded daily near surface air temperature from the National Centers for Climate Prediction Reanalysis v2 (NCEP R2). We found substantial deviation between the station and the reanalysis trends, suggesting that GPCC and NCEP data substantially underestimate the geographic extent of recent drought in Kazakhstan. Although gridded climate products offer many advantages in ease of use and complete coverage, our findings for Kazakhstan should serve as a caveat against uncritical use of GPCC and NCEP reanalysis data and demonstrate the importance of compiling and standardizing daily climate data from data-sparse regions like Central Asia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number045020
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


  • Climate trends
  • Drought
  • GPCC precipitation data
  • Kazakhstan
  • NCEP R2 temperature data
  • Time series analysis

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