PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2014, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (1): 3-12.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2014.01.001

• Invited Paper •     Next Articles

Changing characteristics of extreme climate events during past 2000 years in China

ZHENG Jingyun1, HAO Zhixin1, FANG Xiuqi1,2, GE Quansheng1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. School of Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2013-10-01 Revised:2013-12-01 Online:2014-01-25 Published:2014-01-22

Abstract: In the current research on climate changes it is a hot topic to study the changes of extreme climatic events during historical periods. In this paper, based on the reconstructions from multiple proxy types including historical documents, tree-rings, ice cores and lake sediments in the published literature of the recent 20 years, we summarized the characteristics of changes of extreme climate events during the past 2000 years in China. The analysis shows that: (1) During the cold periods of 1500-1900 and 220-580, there appeared extremely cold winters that were even colder than the cold winters in the years after 1950, and there appeared hot summers with daily highest temperature exceeding record high of the years in the 20th century as well. In the past 1600 years, the cold summer events in Northeast of China mainly occurred during the period of 1400-1900. (2) In the eastern monsoon region of China, the extreme drought events prevailed during the periods of 301-400, 751-800, 1051-1150, 1501-1550 and 1601-1650, the extreme flood events often occurred during the periods of 101-150, 251-300, 951-1000, 1701-1750, 1801-1850 and 1901-1950, and for the period of 1551-1600, coexisting extreme drought and extreme flood events occurred most frequently. The frequency of persistent extreme drought was higher during the 7th-8th century, 12th-14th century and late-15th century to mid-17th century; the frequency of sustaining extreme flood was higher during the 10th-11th century and after the mid-17th century. The time intervals of extreme drought/flood events are different in North China, Yangtze and Huaihe River Valley and south of Yangtze River. In addition, the notable extreme drought events, such as "Chong Zhen Drought" in the Ming Dynasty, and "Ding Wu Famine" in the Qing Dynasty, were recognized. (3) In the arid region of Northwest China, the extreme drought events mainly occurred during the periods of 1471-1520, 1581-1650, 1711-1760, 1811-1860 and 1921-1970. 1710s was the most severe drought decade during the past 1000 years. However, due to the very limited climate proxy data for this region, the primary characteristics of complete change process of the extreme events were difficult to evaluate. (4) Although drought frequently occurred in southwest of China during the early 21th century, the extreme drought events as severe as the one in Sichuan and Chongqing in 2006 occurred many times during the historical periods.

Key words: characteristic of change, China, extreme climate event, past 2000 years

CLC Number: 

  • P467