The drought risk of maize in the farming–pastoral ecotone in Northern China based on physical vulnerability assessment
Climate change is affecting every aspect of human activities, especially the agriculture. In China, extreme drought events caused by climate change have posed a great threat to food safety. In this work we aimed to study the drought risk of maize in the farming–pastoral ecotone in Northern China based on physical vulnerability assessment. The physical vulnerability curve was constructed from the relationship between drought hazard intensity index and yield loss rate. The risk assessment of agricultural drought was conducted from the drought hazard intensity index and physical vulnerability curve. The probability distribution of drought hazard intensity index decreased from south-west to north-east and increased from south-east to north-west along the rainfall isoline. The physical vulnerability curve had a reduction effect in three parts of the farming–pastoral ecotone in Northern China, which helped to reduce drought hazard vulnerability on spring maize. The risk of yield loss ratio calculated based on physical vulnerability curve was lower compared with the drought hazard intensity index, which suggested that the capacity of spring maize to resist and adapt to drought is increasing. In conclusion, the farming–pastoral ecotone in Northern China is greatly sensitive to climate change and has a high probability of severe drought hazard. Risk assessment of physical vulnerability can help better understand the physical vulnerability to agricultural drought and can also promote measurements to adapt to climate change.