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Climate change, social unrest and dynastic transition in ancient China

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Abstract

The evident connection between human evolution and climatic changes has been concurred by scientists. Although many people are trying to forecast the impacts of climatic changes on our future society, there are not any studies to quantitatively scrutinize the interrelation between climatic changes and social developments by using historical data. In line with this knowledge gap, this study adopted a scientific approach to compare the paleoclimatic records with the historical data of wars, social unrests, and dynastic transitions in China spanned from the late Tang to Qing Dynasties. Results showed that war frequency in cold phases was much higher than that in mild phases. Besides, 70%–80% of war peaks and most of the dynastic transitions and nationwide social unrests in China took place in cold phases. This phenomenon could be attributed to the diminishing thermal energy input in cold phases resulting in the fall of land-productivity and hence, the deficiency of livelihood resources across society. Accompanied with certain social circumstances, this kind of ecological stress was transformed into wars and social unrests, followed by dynastic transitions in most of the cases. By closer examination, it was even found that war frequency was negatively correlated with temperature anomaly series. As land carrying capacities vary from one climatic zone to another, the magnitude of war-temperature association also differed among different geographic regions. It is suggested that climatic change was one of the most important factors in determining the dynastic cycle and alternation of war and peace in ancient China.

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... Climate changes have long been proposed as an important driver of these historical cultural changes (Ge, 2011;Fan, 2014). For example, a large number of studies have attempted to understand the possible influences of climate change on the transitions of dynasties and social unrests during the past two millennia (Zhang et al., 2005Li et al., 2017). Some of these studies proposed a decrease in monsoon precipitation could induce unrest and peasant uprising and finally cause dynastic transitions (Yancheva et al., 2007;Zhang et al., 2008;Pei and Zhang, 2014), although some conflicting views also exist (D. . ...
... Some of these studies proposed a decrease in monsoon precipitation could induce unrest and peasant uprising and finally cause dynastic transitions (Yancheva et al., 2007;Zhang et al., 2008;Pei and Zhang, 2014), although some conflicting views also exist (D. . Other studies proposed either that a cold climate could severely increase conflicts and wars through decreasing land-carrying capacity in the traditional agrarian society (Zhang et al., 2005;Liu et al., 2009;Pei and Zhang, 2014), or that a warm climate could provide a solid material foundation for more frequent conflicts . One of the important reasons for these inconsistent and even contradictory conclusions is the shortage of robust quantitative climate reconstructions, especially in the heartland of Chinese culture. ...
... Furthermore, high-resolution and reliable temperature records covering the "5000-year" Chinese history are quite lacking for the heartland of Chinese culture (Kaufman et al., 2020). As a result, many studies have to use broad or even hemispheric-scale temperature data to evaluate its impact on Chinese cultural changes, which probably increase the uncertainty of the relation between them (Zhang et al., 2005;Pei and Zhang, 2014). ...
Article
High-quality paleoclimate reconstructions can provide crucial climate context to test the hypothesis of climatic impact on historical culture changes. Here we report high-resolution and quantitative temperature and precipitation records covering the entire “5000-year” Chinese history in northern China. Our temperature record shows a slight decrease before 1800 cal yr BP and a ∼4 °C rapid cooling afterwards, superimposed with four major ∼2–3 °C centennial-scale cold events, potentially corresponding to the widespread North Atlantic ice-rafted debris Bond events. While precipitation record shows high value before 3000 cal yr BP, and a gradual decrease of ∼250 mm with two distinct ∼100 mm centennial-scale dry intervals after 1100 cal yr BP. Our data not only provide a more complete climate background for Chinese dynasties, but show the coincidence in the timing between abrupt cold and/or dry events and large-scale social unrests and southern migration of nomads. This finding reveals climate fluctuations, in particular variations in temperature, played an important role in affecting Chinese historical cultural changes.
... Manning and colleagues (2017) find that a volcanic eruption suppressed flooding along the Nile river which in turn suppressed crop production and led to a series of revolts in Ptolemaic Egypt (circa 305-30 BCE). One study of China attributes dynastic change to climatologically cold periods and lower crop production (Zhang et al. 2005). ...
... Burke et al. 2009; Yeeles 2015;Dell, Jones, and Olken 2012;Buhaug et al. 2015;Dian et al. 2005;Manning 2017;Scheffran et al. 2012; Van Loon et al. 2016) with some researchers finding robust relationships between temperature, rainfall, and social unrest (e.g.Jones, Mattiacci, and Braumoeller 2017), and others finding weak or null results(Buhaug et al. 2015). These inconsistent results may reflect that many of the country-level or geographically based socioeconomic indicators typically used as controls are themselves patterned by environmental forces and thus might confound the empirical relationship between environmental stressors and unrest patterns. ...
... These inconsistent results may reflect that many of the country-level or geographically based socioeconomic indicators typically used as controls are themselves patterned by environmental forces and thus might confound the empirical relationship between environmental stressors and unrest patterns. Additionally, previous research has focused on long term temperature changes in the climate or drought, however few studies have considered very wet conditions or flooding as another potential source of unrest(Buhaug et al. 2015;Burke, Hsiang, and Miguel 2015;Dian et al. 2005;Hsiang, Burke, and Miguel 2013; Van Loon et al. 2016). This study extends the current literature by examining very wet conditions, typical of the annual monsoon season in parts of India(Kumar et al. 2011). ...
Article
Scholars have grown increasingly interested in the association between climate conditions and social unrest. Though no consensus exists regarding the specific mechanisms that connect both phenomena, scholars have found a links between rising temperatures, precipitation, or the magnitude of disasters and social unrest. However, is unclear to what extent deviations from historical trends rather than absolute levels might serve as important indicators of unrest. Moreover, it remains unclear how effectively socio-demographic factors like quality of life and ethno-religious fragmentation can explain trends on unrest, net of climatological indicators. This project tests the extent to which deviation from historical trends in precipitation is associated with an increase in the frequency of protests in India (2016) – net of key indicators of quality of life and socio-economic fragmentation. District-level analyses employ satellite-based precipitation data and protest event data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) project, combined with socio-demographic data from the India Census and related sources. Results indicate that protests levels are associated with climatological and quality of life or social inequality indicators. Moreover, results generally indicate a strong relationship between deviation from historically average precipitation and protests. However, the direction of this association varies cross years. Implications of these results are discussed as potentially related to increasing climatological instability. Advisor: Regina Werum
... The climate-war nexus in historical China has been widely addressed by academic communities over the past decade [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]. Scientists have mostly focused on this nexus from a temporal or timeseries angle, whereas the spatiality of war and its connection with climate change has rarely been investigated. ...
... These do not cover the entire period, as this division scheme does not indicate whether 351-440, 531-550, and 761-780 CE belonged to warm or cold periods. In this study, by referencing the definitions of warm and cold phases from Zhang et al.'s [1] first study on the relationship between climate change, social unrest, and dynastic transition in historical China, the start and end of a warm or cold stage were placed in the midpoint between the highest and lowest temperature anomalies. Based on this criterion, the procedure of cyclic division was as described below: ...
... Hence, three precipitation cycles were determined, and over the study period, the lengths of all wet and dry periods lasted for 826 and 1085 years, respectively ( Figure 1b and Table 1). [34] and has been extensively employed in previous research [1][2][3][4][5][8][9][10][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]. In this study, battle was considered the basic unit of war. ...
Article
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Quantitative research on climate change and war hot spots throughout history is lacking. In this study, the spatial distribution and dynamic process of war hot spots under different climatic phases in imperial China (1–1911 CE) are revealed using Emerging Hot Spot Analysis (EHSA), based on the Global Moran’s Index for testing the degree of spatial autocorrelation or dependency. The results show that: (1) Battles were significantly clustered regardless of any climatic mode or war category. (2) Hot spots for all war were generally located in the Loess Plateau and the North China Plain during warm and wet periods, but in the Central Plain, the Jianghuai region, and the lower reaches of the Yangtze River/Yangtze River Delta during cold and dry conditions. (3) Hot spots for agri-nomadic conflict have similar patterns as those for all war, whereas rebellion hot spots expanded outward during warm and wet intervals yet contracted inward during cold and dry stages. These findings, by providing insightful evidence into the spatiotemporal patterns of war under the movements of climatic-ecological zones and geopolitical variations in ancient China, can be a starting point for future exploration of the long-term relationship between climate change and social security.
... Since 2005, the year in which the work of Zhang et al. (2005) was published, there have been an increasing number of large-N quantitative studies measuring the effect of climate change on wars in recent history [The term "large" is subject to considerable interpretation. Here the term "large-N" implies that the number of cases should be large enough for experimental and statistical analysis to reach causal conclusions, and there should not be any non-random selection or exclusion of cases (Gerring 2001)]. ...
... In those large-N quantitative studies crossing different geographic levels, the regional disparity of the climate-war nexus is also demonstrated (Zhang et al. 2005;Zhang et al. 2006;Zhang et al. 2007a;Zhang et al. 2007b;Lee et al. 2015b;Lee et al. 2016a;Lee et al. 2017b;Lee 2018). Briefly, the effect of climate deterioration in triggering wars is much more significant in marginal environment (in terms of agricultural productivity) and densely populated regions. ...
... At the long-term and large-spatial levels, climate change was the important cause of large-scale human crisis in ancient civilizations (Dong, Liu, and Chen 2017) and pre-industrial societies (Zhang et al. 2011a). Strong correlation can often be found when climate change and war are directly compared (Zhang et al. 2007a;Zhang et al. 2005;Zhang et al. 2006;Zhang et al. 2007b;Zhang et al. 2011b), revealing the human dimension (i.e. the role played by human beings) of the climate-war nexus to be relatively unimportant at these levels. At the short-term and small-spatial levels, factors other than climate change would be more important. ...
Article
Since 2005, there have been an increasing number of large-N quantitative studies measuring the effect of climate change on wars in recent history. Those large-N studies are crucial in illuminating the close connection between the physical environment and human societies in a macro (i.e. long-temporal and large-spatial) historic perspective. Grounded on a large number of cases, those studies help evidence and generalize the societal impact of climate change. Nevertheless, this large-N approach is relatively new in academia, and there is not any standard practice as regards how the quantitative analysis of the pre-industrial climate-war nexus should be conducted. Some methodological issues remain open. In this study, those large-N studies of the climate-war nexus in the pre-industrial period are systematically reviewed. Some conceptual and methodological issues pertinent to the understanding and examination of the climate-war nexus are discussed. Suggestions and priorities for future research on the topic are also provided at the end of this paper. This study may provide deeper reflections and produce constructive insights about the relationship between climate change and wars, advancing progress in climate-war research.
... Data on wars were gathered from Tabulation of Wars in Ancient China, an appendix of Military History of China, which was summarized by the Editorial Committee of Chinese Military History (1985) and extensively employed in previous research (Zhang et al. 2005(Zhang et al. , 2006(Zhang et al. , 2007bZhang and Lee 2010;Lee andZhang 2010, 2013;Lee 2014;Pei and Zhang 2014;Lee et al. 2016Lee et al. , 2017Liu et al. 2016;Pei et al. 2017Pei et al. , 2018Zhang and Zhang 2019). In this study, battle is considered as the basic unit of war. ...
... Temperature fundamentally regulates the occurrence, frequency, and distribution of war by controlling the ecological environments and the resultant socialeconomic situations in different human systems (e.g., farming and nomadic herding). Such a causal mechanism and theoretical framework have been firmly validated in previous studies (Zhang et al. 2005(Zhang et al. , 2007a(Zhang et al. , 2011a. Among these non-climatic factors, the shift of political and economic center of imperial China should not be ignored. ...
Article
Full-text available
Studies about climate change and the variation of the spatial pattern of war are extremely scarce in academia at present. Therefore, the temperature series and battle coordinates in imperial China from AD 5 to 1911 are integrated in this research, and their long-term quantitative relationship is examined by employing mathematical statistics such as one-way ANOVA, as well as the spatial analytical tool, standard deviational ellipse (SDE) in ArcGIS. Meanwhile, the temperature sequence is divided into three multicentennial warm–cold cycles, which are combined with different types of war (all war, agri-nomadic conflict, and rebellion) to reveal the spatial disparity of war under the influence of secular and periodic temperature change. Results show that (1) battle longitude and battle latitude are significantly different between warm and cold phases. (2) SDEs stretch toward the north/west/northwest in warm intervals but retreat south-/east-/southeastward in cold stages. (3) SDEs generally shift southeastward over time, and the variation of latitude is more evident than that of longitude, which corresponds to the overall cooling trend throughout the past 2000 years. Based on these research findings, we conclude that temperature fundamentally regulates the spatial difference of war in imperial China via controlling agricultural and pastoral productivity. This innovative study provides a robust climatological explanation of the historical conundrum why wars in ancient China distribute with specific directions, and it also lays a foundation for spatiotemporal investigations of climate change and human responses at long-term scales in the future.
... In recent years, there have been an increasing number of large-N quantitative studies measuring the effect of climate change on wars in recent human history. Their general conclusion is that, for pre-industrial societies, wars are attributable to subsistence pressure brought by deteriorating climate such as cooling and drought (Lee et al., , 2016bZhang et al., 2005Zhang et al., , 2006Zhang et al., , 2007aZhang et al., , 2007bZhang et al., , 2011aZhang et al., , 2011b. As agricultural production relied on a low level of technology and, hence, was largely dependent on climate during the time, climate deterioration could result in drastic shrinkage of agricultural production. ...
... For nomadic invasions and internal wars, the data came from a multi-volume compendium Tabulation of Wars in Ancient China (Editorial Committee of Chinese Military History, 1985), which exhaustively records information on the wars in China in 800 BC-AD 1911. This dataset has been employed repeatedly in previous studies (Zhang et al., 2005(Zhang et al., , 2006(Zhang et al., , 2007b. In this study, nomadic invasion refers to the invasion of nomadic tribes such as Mongol and Manchu, while internal war denotes peasant rebellions and miscellaneous armed conflicts taking place within the Chinese polities. ...
Article
Chaotic events that might be regarded as proximate causes in triggering war have rarely been considered in the large-N quantitative studies of historical warfare. Furthermore, it has not been fully determined which types of chaotic events, natural disasters or socio-ecological catastrophes, are more influential in modulating the likelihood of wars. This study is based on the incidents of 5368 natural disasters, 1478 famines, 5700 epidemics, 456 nomadic invasions, and 1315 internal wars in the agricultural region (including wheat and rice regions) of China in AD 1470–1911, together with Poisson regression and Granger Causality analyses, to explore the catalytic effect of natural disasters and socio-ecological catastrophes in modulating the likelihood of wars in history. The comparison between the wheat and the rice regions is focused. This is the first large-N inter-regional quantitative analysis on this topic. Our statistical results show that, in general, socio-ecological catastrophes are the proximate triggers of internal wars. Specifically, internal wars are triggered by epidemics in the wheat region, and they are ignited by famines in the rice region in historic China. In addition, internal wars in the two agro-ecological zones are revealed to be context-dependent. Also, conceptual models about the synergy of natural disasters and socio-ecological catastrophes in causing internal wars in the wheat and the rice regions are proposed, respectively. The above findings supplement the Malthusian theory by demonstrating the inter-connection among various mortality factors, which has rarely been examined empirically in academia. Moving beyond historic China, researchers are encouraged to boil down war data in other parts of the world by geographic regions in the course of their statistical analysis to examine each region individually in follow-up studies.
... The nexus of climate change and human society in historical China has attracted considerable attention in academia over the past decade. Among the related research, topics about climate change and demographic dynamics (Zhang et al. 2007a; Lee et al. 2008Lee et al. , 2009Lee et al. , 2016Lee andZhang 2010, 2013;Lee 2014) as well as warfare have been widely investigated (Zhang et al. 2005(Zhang et al. , 2006(Zhang et al. , 2007a(Zhang et al. , b, 2015Zhang and Lee 2010;Bai and Kung 2011;Zheng et al. 2014;Chen 2015;Fang et al. 2015;Xiao et al. 2015;Liu et al. 2016;Liu et al. 2018). With sophisticated conceptual framework, robust logical system, and/or well-validated causality in these studies, climate cooling and economic downturn were deemed as the ultimate and direct cause of large-scale human crises in pre-industrial societies, respectively (Zhang et al. 2011a). ...
... War data were gathered from Tabulation of Wars in Ancient China, an appendix that belongs to the Military History of China, which was summarized by the Editorial Committee of Chinese Military History (1985) and extensively employed in previous research (Zhang et al. 2005(Zhang et al. , 2006(Zhang et al. , 2007a(Zhang et al. , b, 2015Lee andZhang 2010, 2013;Zhang and Lee 2010;Lee 2014;Pei and Zhang 2014;Lee et al. 2016Lee et al. , 2017Liu et al. 2016;Pei et al. 2017;Zhang and Zhang 2019;Zhang et al. 2020a, b). In this study, battle is considered as the basic unit of war. ...
Article
Full-text available
Studies on the spatiotemporal relationship between historical climate change and the patterns of population and war are rare. In this research, statistical methods (such as correlation test and Granger causality analysis) and visualization technique are applied to demonstrate how temperature, in terms of long-term trend and cyclic mode, fundamentally affects the temporal-spatial variations of population center and war center during imperial China (5–1911 CE). Results show that (1) the consistent southward migration of population center and war center overall accords with the macro-trend of temperature cooling over the last two millennia. (2) The extent of the outward expansion of the Chinese Empire is measured by the population center–war center distance that lengthens during warm periods but shortens in cold phases, which correspond to the north/west/northwestward advancement and south/east/eastward retreatment of war center, respectively, while population center moves within a small range. (3) The shift of population latitude precedes that of war latitude, indicating the change from ecological-demographic to social-political sphere in space. We suggest that similar to population center, the temperature-influenced ancient Hu Line, which symbolizes the disparity of population density in different regions of China, may shift by several hundred kilometers; latitudinal rather than longitudinal variations of population center and war center are more robust in history. We also find that precipitation controls war center and population center on the multicentennial scale, but not the scale focused upon in this study. These findings provide new insights and theoretical implications into the in-depth understanding of the nature–human nexus.
... Conflicts between pastoralists and agriculturalists have reportedly occurred on a regular basis, making the region one of the scenes for major battles between the armies of ancient China and nomadic minorities (Feng et al., 2019). These violent interactions influenced the characteristics of the populations that migrated due to famine, social unrest, and war (Zhang et al., 2005). ...
... Empirical studies have confirmed that an increase in the imbalance between populations in terms of access to water and soil resources can lead to armed conflicts, especially when these scarcities lead to food shortages. In some cases, war may be the result of a series of social and ideological conflicts, such as religious differences (Zhang et al., 2005). The conflict/war variable encompasses a variety of different types of conflict (e.g., nomadarmy clashes, domestic rebellions, interstate warfare and so forth). ...
Article
The relationship between climate and human society has frequently been investigated to ascertain whether climate variability can trigger social crises (e.g., migration and armed conflicts). In the current study, statistical methods (e.g., correlation analysis and Granger Causality Analysis) are used in a systematic analysis of the potential causality of climate variability on migration and armed conflicts. Specifically, the statistical methods are applied to determine the relationships between long-term fine-grained temperature and precipitation data and contemporary social conditions, gleaned from historical documents covering the last two millennia in China's Hexi Corridor. Results found the region's reconstructed temperature to be strongly coupled with precipitation dynamics, i.e., a warming climate was associated with a greater supply of moisture, whereas a cooling period was associated with more frequent drought. A prolonged cold period tended to coincide with societal instability, such as a shift from unification towards fragmentation. In contrast, a prolonged warm period coincided with rapid development, i.e., a shift from separation to unification. The statistical significance of the causality linkages between climate variability, bio-productivity, grain yield, migration and conflict suggests that climate variability is not the direct causative agent of these phenomena, but that climate reduced food production which gradually lead to migration and conflicts. A conceptual causal model developed through this study describes the causative pathway of climate variability impacts on migration and conflicts in the Hexi Corridor. Applied to current conditions, the model suggests that steady and proactive promotion of the nation's economic buffering capacity might best address the uncertainty brought on by a range of potential future climate scenarios and their potential impacts.
... Climate change plays a key role in the rise and decline of cultural phases (An et al., 2005;Medina-Elizalde and Rohling, 2012), shift in human subsistence strategies (Betti et al., 2020;Yang et al., 2019;Zhang et al., 2021), and social crises and instability (Feng et al., 2019;Kaniewski et al., 2019;Zhang et al., 2005). The Hexi Corridor region, which is in northwest Gansu Province in northwestern China, was the most important route for the ancient Silk Road and a key hub for trans-Eurasian interaction during the prehistorical period (Dong et al., 2018). ...
... Climate change plays a key role in the rise and decline of cultural phases (An et al., 2005;Medina-Elizalde and Rohling, 2012), shift in human subsistence strategies (Betti et al., 2020;Yang et al., 2019;Zhang et al., 2021), and social crises and instability (Feng et al., 2019;Kaniewski et al., 2019;Zhang et al., 2005). The Hexi Corridor region, which is in northwest Gansu Province in northwestern China, was the most important route for the ancient Silk Road and a key hub for trans-Eurasian interaction during the prehistorical period (Dong et al., 2018). ...
Article
Precipitation has been suggested as a crucial influencing factor in the primary productivity in arid and semi-arid regions, yet how moisture fluctuation in an arid mountain-basin system of the north Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau has affected human activities is poorly understood. Here, we reconstruct the variations of grazing intensity in high elevations and regional humidity based on independent and high-resolution records of Sporormiella-type coprophilous fungal spores and pollen grains in the same well-dated sediment core from Lake Tian’E in the western Qilian Mountains over the past 3500 years. We find that stronger grazing activity was associated with low regional effective moisture, and propose that the drier regional climate pushed people and their livestock into the mountainous areas. A notable exception was a reduction of human and grazing activities in arid region with high mountains during 380–580 CE caused by centennial-length dry and cold conditions. In addition, it is also noteworthy that intensified grazing activity occurred during 580–720 CE and after ∼1920 CE, corresponding to a warmer and wetter climate and diverse subsistence strategies with social developments in the lowlands of the Hexi Corridor. Our findings potentially provide a historical reference for understanding how ancient people adapted to the climate change in arid region with high mountains.
... This material documents a wide range of human activities and it provides a valuable reference for the present study. Information pertaining to wars was obtained from the Tabulation of Wars in Ancient China, an appendix of the Military History of China, which was summarized by the Editorial Committee of Chinese Military History (1985); it has been widely utilized in previous research (Zhang et al., 2005. Only ancient wars which occurred within the current territory of Shanxi Province were counted in the present study. ...
Article
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Long-term, high-resolution temperature records which combine an unambiguous proxy and precise dating are rare in China. In addition, the societal implications of past temperature change on a regional scale have not been sufficiently assessed. Here, based on the modern relationship between chironomids and temperature, we use fossil chironomid assemblages in a precisely dated sediment core from Gonghai Lake to explore temperature variability during the past 4000 years in northern China. Subsequently, we address the possible regional societal implications of temperature change through a statistical analysis of the occurrence of wars. Our results show the following. (1) The mean annual temperature (TANN) was relatively high during 4000–2700 cal yr BP, decreased gradually during 2700–1270 cal yr BP and then fluctuated during the last 1270 years. (2) A cold event in the Period of Disunity, the Sui-Tang Warm Period (STWP), the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA) can all be recognized in the paleotemperature record, as well as in many other temperature reconstructions in China. This suggests that our chironomid-inferred temperature record for the Gonghai Lake region is representative. (3) Local wars in Shanxi Province, documented in the historical literature during the past 2700 years, are statistically significantly correlated with changes in temperature, and the relationship is a good example of the potential societal implications of temperature change on a regional scale.
... In recent years, there have been an increasing number of large-N studies examining quantitatively the influence of climate change on various aspects of human societies in China during the historical period. The aspects covered include agricultural production (Yin et al., 2015), economic fluctuations (Wei et al., 2014(Wei et al., , 2015a(Wei et al., , 2015bYin et al., 2015;, armed conflicts (Zhang et al., 2007;Zhang and Lee, 2010;Jia, 2014), epidemics Lee et al., 2017), migrations Pei et al., 2016a), geo-politics (Bai and Kung, 2011;Zhang et al., 2015), population growth dynamics (Lee et al., 2008(Lee et al., , 2009Zhang, 2010b, 2013;Lee, 2014;Lee et al., 2016b), and dynastic cycles (Zhang et al., 2005(Zhang et al., , 2006Yin et al., 2016aYin et al., , 2016b. Based on various statistical methods and research materials, scholars generally conclude that there have been more frequent and severe socio-economic, political, and demographic crises in a deteriorating climate (i.e., cold and dry) throughout Chinese history. ...
Article
Although many large-N quantitative studies have evidenced the adverse effects of climatic extremes on social stability in China during the historical period, most of them rely on temperature and precipitation as major explanatory variables, while the influence of floods and droughts on social crises is rarely measured. Furthermore, a comparison of the climate-society nexus among different geographic regions and at different temporal scales is missing in those studies. To address this knowledge gap, this study examines quantitatively the influence of floods and droughts on internal wars in three agro-ecological (rice, wheat, and pastoral) regions in China in AD1470–1911. Poisson regression and wavelet transform coherence analyses are applied to allow for the non-linear and non-stationary nature of the climate-war nexus. Results show that floods and droughts are significant in driving internal wars in historical China, but are characterized by strong regional variation. In the rice region, floods trigger internal wars at the inter-annual and multi-decadal time scales. In the wheat region, both floods and droughts cause internal wars at the inter-annual and multi-decadal time scales. In the pastoral region, internal wars are associated with floods only at the multi-decadal time scale. In addition, the multi-decadal coherence between hydro-climatic extremes and internal wars in all three of the agro-ecological regions is only significant in periods in which population density is increasing or the upper limit of regional carrying capacity is being reached. The above results imply that the climate-war nexus is mediated by regional geographic factors such as physical environmental setting and population pressure. Hence, we encourage researchers who study the historical human-climate relationship to boil down data according to geographic regions in the course of statistical analysis and to examine each region individually in follow-up studies.
... Their statistical findings confirm that war has been more prevalent in colder periods. This is not only valid in China ( Zhang et al. 2005;Zhang et al. 2006;Zhang and Lee 2010;Zhang 2010a, 2013;Lee 2014) and Europe ( Lee et al. 2015;) over the past millennium, but also for the globe in recent human history ( ). ...
Article
Recent studies show that wars were more prevalent during colder periods in human history. Nevertheless, the temporal consistency of the climate-war correlation in Europe over extended period has rarely been examined systematically. In this study, we extended the European violent conflict record in the Conflict Catalog [Brecke 1999. “Violent conflicts 1400 A.D. to the present in different regions of the world.” Paper presented at the 1999 Meeting of the Peace Science Society (International), Ann Arbor, MI, 8–10 October 1999] back to the year AD900, and examined quantitatively the climate-war consistency in Europe in AD900–1999. The period covers the Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age, and twentieth-century warming. Grounded on a total number of 2309 recorded violent conflicts in Europe over the last 1100 years, our statistical results were: (1) the negative temperature-war correlation was significant in terms of multi-decadal cycles; (2) in the second half of the period (AD1450–1999): the climate-war relationship was more apparent during longer cycles; a large spatial extent of slight cooling was more pertinent than a small spatial extent of severe cooling in affecting social stability in Europe; and the overall temperature-war correlation was stronger; and (3) the climate-war association was temporarily distorted when population pressure was drastically reduced. The association became significant again once the population system pushed against its Malthusian constraints. In sum, the climate-war association in Europe was statistically significant at the multi-decadal timescale. Yet, its strength varied across different periods and was contingent upon population pressure during the time. The findings in this study may provide some hints in assessing the effectiveness of human adaptations to climate change in the long-term.
... For instance, favorable environmental conditions may have boosted agriculture and animal husbandry, thus increasing the availability of resources necessary to support a powerful empire, while adverse conditions may have undermined the level of production and the living conditions of human society or exacerbated social stresses which eventually may have led to severe crises or collapse of socio-culture systems (Yang et al. 2017). In fact, coherent patterns and synchronous events in history suggest certain links between the social upheaval and climate forcing (Issar and Zohar 2004;Clarke et al. 2016), and environmental factors have been claimed as multipliers that accelerated socio-culture changes in some cases (Zhang et al. 2005;Rosen 2007). ...
Chapter
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This chapter introduces, by literature reviews, the issue of the links and processes behind climate change, environmental change, and socio-culture change in the past at the ancient Silk Road region. Analyses of the changes of the socio-environment system in this area enhance our understanding on the regular patterns of coupled natural and social evolution, and is thus of important theoretical and practical significance. We argue that the cross-cutting theme has been to reach beyond simple explanations of environmental or human determinism, but social resilience under environmental impacts. Studies indicate both that climate conditions significantly influence human socio-cultural systems and that the socio-culture systems are certainly resilient to climate impacts. This chapter also summarizes the scope of all chapters in this book by illustrating the specific topics, research areas, focused periods and their inner relationships. The conclusion further summarizes the recent research states on past socio-environmental dynamics and the findings achieved in this book, as well as some outlooks.
... The effects of population growth could be spread to society, the economy, the ecology, and the environment. Furthermore, population has been accepted as a major proxy in examining the triangulation among humans, society, and the environment in preindustrial societies [3][4][5]. Population density can be estimated by statistical data, remote-sensing imagery, and historical documents [6][7][8]. With the advancement of new population estimation methods, we can develop more accurate estimates of population density in small regions (e.g., county or town). ...
Article
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It has been suggested that population growth dynamics may be revealed by the geographic distribution and the physical structure of ancient bridges. Yet, this relationship has not been empirically verified. In this study, we applied the archaeological records for ancient bridges to reveal the population growth dynamics in the lower Yangtze River Basin in late imperial China. We investigated 89 ancient bridges in Yixing that were built during the Ming and Qing dynasties (AD1368–1911). Global Position System information and structure (length, width, and span) of those bridges was measured during our field investigations. Their distribution density was calculated by ArcGIS. The historical socio-economic dynamics of Yixing was inferred from the distribution and structure of ancient bridges. Based on the above information, the population growth dynamics in Yixing was projected. Our results show that 77 bridges were built in Yixing during the Qing dynasty, which is 6.41 times more than the number built during the Ming dynasty. In the Ming dynasty, bridges were built on pivotal routes; in the Qing dynasty, bridges were scattered across various places. Over the period, the density distribution of bridges shifted northwestward, while the average length and width of bridges decreased. The increasing number of bridges corresponded to population growth, largely attributable to massive clan migration from northern China during the Little Ice Age. The shift in the density distribution of bridges corresponded to the formation of settlements of large clans and the blossoming of Yixing Teapot handicrafts. The scattering and the reduction in average length and width of bridges was due to the dispersal of population and the associated formation of small settlements in the latter period. Our approach is innovative and robust, and could be employed to recover long-term historical population growth dynamics in other parts of China.
... The Dianshan sequence presented in this paper begins around the time of the demise of the Bronze Age Maqiao culture (Long and Taylor, 2015), and corresponds to the Lower Yangtze cultural periods of the Eastern Zhou (from 771 BCE), the dynasties of , and Han (206 BCE-220 CE), the , the Jin Dynasty (280-420 CE), the 'Southern Dynasties' (420-581 CE), the dynasties of Sui (581-618 CE) and Tang (618-906 CE), the Wuyue kingdom (906-978 CE) and the Song Dynasty (978-1279 CE). Although cultural and social factors were very important (Lu, 2007), the collapse of dynasties, including the Han, Tang and Song, are associated with periods of low temperature and drought (Gao, 1997), which may well have caused crop failures and social conflict, and prompted migration Zhang et al., 2005bZhang et al., , 2010Zhang et al., , 2015Zhang, 2014, Pei et al., 2018). ...
Article
The coastal deltaic plain of the Yangtze River between Taihu (Lake Tai) and Shanghai in eastern China has been the scene of human settlement and agriculture since the early Neolithic, becoming increasingly intensive in the Upper Holocene when delta accretion and the establishment of a stable hydrological regime of freshwater lakes and wetlands allowed the development of extensive agriculture and complex society in late prehistoric and dynastic times. During this period the area was significantly affected by changes in sea level, climate and vegetation, resulting in a dynamic and complex environmental history, however little research has concentrated on environmental change and human impacts during the last few millennia. This study focuses on this late period, presenting the results of integrated sedimentary, microfossil and radiocarbon analyses from a core near the eastern margin of Lake Dianshan, to the east of Taihu. After the withdrawal of intertidal conditions and the conversion to freshwater lake at the core site about 2600 cal. yr BP, pollen and algal spore data show that increased sedimentation gradually reduced freshwater depth until a surface peat formed ca. 1500 cal. yr BP. This also dates the start of a switch in woodlands from sub-tropical and warm temperate trees to a mainly cool temperate and coniferous tree flora, under climatic cooling and human impact. After this time water depths at the site increased greatly, partly due to climate change and flooding, but also because of the establishment of deepwater ‘paddy’ agriculture. Microcharcoal and pollen data show that a major episode of human impact using fire, with deforestation and rice cultivation, occurred between ca. 1500 and 1200 cal. yr BP. These dates suggest it is one of the latest examples of ‘flooded-field’ ‘paddy’ cultivation before more intensive agricultural techniques were adopted in the area after ca. 800 cal. yr BP.
... The deficit in livelihood resources was aggravated by the population expansion accumulated in the previous favorable climate. Thus, state wars and rebellions were likely to erupt in a deteriorating climate (Zhang et al., 2005;Zhang et al., 2006;Zhang et al., 2007b). Starting from the beginning of the 17 th century, the social stability of China worsened as the climate was getting colder. ...
Article
Although global warming and its future possible consequences for human societies have been thoroughly examined in recent years, quantitative studies about the notable effects of climate changes upon human societies in history are almost absent. Recently, the authors scientifically explored the relationship between climate change and wars by comparing high-resolution paleo-climate reconstructions with known war incidences in history. They found that in most of the geographic regions worldwide war frequencies showed a cyclic pattern that closely followed the paleo-temperature changes. In this research, the authors proposed a conceptual model to exemplify how climatic fluctuations are translated into war peace cycles via socio-economic mechanism, with China during 1500 – 1800 to be a case study. The model was quantitatively verified by time series analysis and Pearson’s correlation analysis. Statistical results confirmed that, cooling impeded agricultural production brought about a series of social problems including food price inflation, then successively war outbreak, famine and population decline. The findings indicate that war-peace, population and price cycles in agrarian societies in recent centuries have been driven mainly by long-term climate change, which may challenge those socio-economic theories about historical cycles, human demography and wars. The observed temperature-war relationship may give some indication of future societal impacts from climate warming.
... The role of climatic and environmental changes in determining the success and failure of societies is still intensely debated (deMenocal, 2001;Donges et al., 2015;Yancheva et al., 2007;Zhang et al., 2005Zhang et al., , 2010. Ascribing all episodes of societal change to climatic events would be too simplistic in Asia, where advanced and complex dynastic societies existed in various climatic and ecozones (Cunliffe, 2015;Zhang et al., 2010). ...
... For war, the data come from a multi-volume compendium, Tabulation of Wars in Ancient China (Editorial Committee of Chinese Military History 1985), which exhaustively records information on the wars in China in 800BC-AD1911. This dataset has been employed repeatedly in previous studies (Zhang et al. 2005(Zhang et al. , 2007. In this study, I define war as different types of organized violent conflicts, including the invasion of nomadic tribes such as Mongol and Manchu, peasant rebellions, or miscellaneous armed conflicts taking place within the study area. ...
Article
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Despite the effort made by historians and archaeologists to investigate cannibalism in human societies, large-N statistical analysis of cannibalism and its triggering factors in pre-industrial societies is still missing in the literature. In this study, I base on 1194 cannibalism incidents in northern China in 1470–1911, together with other fine-grained paleo-climate and historical war datasets, to verify quantitatively the driving factors of cannibalism in pre-industrial societies. Granger causality, wavelet coherence, and phase analyses are employed. The key findings are that in historical northern China, cannibalism was primarily caused by drought and war, but their relationship is non-stationary and is mediated by environmental and socio-political contexts. The positive feedback between war and cannibalism is also revealed, indicating that they are mutually reinforced. The above findings supplement Malthusian theory with empirical evidence of the non-stationary influence of natural disasters on positive checks and how positive checks interact with and reinforce each other. The results also refine our knowledge about the regional environment-human nexus in northern China.
... Scholars, including Qing Pei, David Zhang, and many others, have also written in this genre, helping to bring the big history of climatic changes and society to scholarly audiences (Lee, Zhang, Pei, Jia, & Yue, 2017;J. Li et al., 2017;Pei, Lee, & Zhang, 2018;Zhang et al., 2005Zhang et al., , 2006. Liu Ts'ui-jung's recent comprehensive overview of the field is an excellent starting place for scholars wishing to find out more on this type of scholarship but also the main regional climatic trends (A. ...
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The last few years have seen a surge of scholarly interest in how cultures have been influenced by climate, climatic changes, and extremes of weather. This “cultural turn” of climate history draws from the archives of society, rather than the archives of nature, and is heavily influenced by interpretative and methodological frameworks drawn from the humanities fields. Attention has been largely focused on European contexts and cultures. This article aims to show, however, that the climate history of Asia is on the cusp of developing its own strong cultural turn and that strong foundations and precedents have already been set. This article has two main objectives. The first is to explore approaches in the history of the climate in East Asia that claim to investigate interactions between climatic changes or extreme events and society and culture. Many of these are macro studies, comparing climatic changes with dramatic events in history. Then, it will take a closer look at scholarship that has focused closely on the ideas and beliefs that characterize a society, showing how regional customs and philosophical systems have developed in relation to weather. It will argue that better integration between the two approaches is needed if we are to fully grasp the interdependence of people and climate, a question that becomes ever more critical as we move further into the Anthropocene. This article is categorized under: Climate, History, Society, Culture > World Historical Perspectives
... For pre-industrial societies, wars were attributable to subsistence pressure brought by deteriorating climate such as cooling and drought Lee et al., 2016;Zhang et al., 2005;Zhang et al., 2007a;Zhang et al., 2006;Zhang et al., 2011b;Zhang et al., 2007b). ...
Article
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The nomad–agriculturalist conflicts under the influence of climate change are investigated with the case of China in 965–1805 CE (mid-to-late Imperial China). Quantitative approach has been adopted with the supplement of qualitative method to re-interpret the conflicts at the long-term national scale under the paradigm of environmental humanities. Our results show that in a deteriorating climate, the state capacity of both nomads and agriculturalist polities were dampened. Nomads initiated southerly migration and invasion towards agriculturalist polities in response to climate-induced subsistence pressure. In turn, agriculturalists defended their territories against the nomadic invasions. When drought and cooling occurred concurrently, nomads were more likely to break the agriculturalist polities’ defense. This is the first-ever study focusing on the military actions of agriculturalist polities towards nomadic polities, which helps to give a more holistic picture about geopolitics in environmentally vulnerable regions. The findings may help supplement current “war–peace” theories by illustrating the responses of different types of polities in a deteriorating climate and reveal the peaceful culture of agriculturalists. This analysis of historical China may have global implications and contribute to the understanding of social dynamics under climate change in coming decades.
... The overall country-wide temperature-epidemics relationship is primarily attributable to the temperature-epidemics association in northern China and central China, particularly in central China. This concurs with the findings in previous climate-war (Zhang et al., 2005(Zhang et al., , 2006(Zhang et al., , 2007b and climate-population studies (Lee et al., 2008(Lee et al., , 2009 in ancient China, in which the catastrophic socio-political and demographic effect of cooling was observed. This may be related to the regional geographic context in central China. ...
... He made an in-depth exploration of Chinese climate change in recent 5000 years and established a geographical relationship model between climate and the rise and fall of dynasties (Qiu, 1990). Through the comparative analysis of war (Lai, 1995), social unrest (Dian 2005), and social revolution (Sigley, 2013), some scholars found that the number of wars was negatively correlated with temperature (Liu, 2016). Other scholars have studied the differences in strength between northern China and southern China from the political (Liu, 2007), economic (Swann, 1950), cultural and military (Galvany, 2015). ...
Conference Paper
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Why has China always been unified by northern forces in history? Is it related to geographical environment? If you are interested, please take a look at my paper. In the war of unifying southern China and northern China in ancient Chinese feudal dynasties, northern China's strength is often superior to that of the south. Based on the historical background of unification wars between southern China and northern China in ancient China, combined with the relevant research results, this paper primarily discusses differences in the natural geographical environment between southern China and northern China. Given the above, comparing the natural environment and combat conditions of the forces, this paper analyzes geographical elements of the northern army's constant victory and finds that climate, terrain, and the origin of warhorses have a significant impact on the outcome of the war. Under the influence of these geographical conditions, the main trend of Chinese history is that the northern ruling group fought southward and finally realized the unification of the dynasty.
... Meanwhile, large numbers of immigrants swarmed into mountain regions and cut down forests for cultivation on steep slopes (19,37), which explains the increased negative slope between cropland area and forest coverage in phase II. As a traditional agrarian society, population in the LP in the first two phases was sustained by agricultural production that was contingent upon climate and weather conditions (38). Reduction of thermal energy input in cold climate periods or extreme drought and flood events could impede agricultural production (32,39), which brought price inflation and social conflicts. ...
Article
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Understanding the regime shifts of social-ecological systems (SES) and their local and spillover effects over a long time frame is important for future sustainability. We provide a perspective of processes unfolding over time to identify the regime shifts of a SES based on changes in the relationships between SES components while also addressing their drivers and local and spillover effects. The applicability of this approach has been demonstrated by analyzing the evolution over the past 1000 years of the SES in China’s Loess Plateau (LP). Five evolutionary phases were identified: “fast expansion of cultivation,” “slow expansion of cultivation,” “landscape engineering for higher production,” “transition from cultivation to ecological conservation,” and “revegetation for environment.” Our study establishes empirical links between the state (phase) of a SES to its drivers and effects. Lessons of single-goal driven and locally focused SES management in the LP, which did not consider these links, have important implications to long-term planning and policy formulation of SES.
... Therefore, climate change might act as a threat multiplier and deepen existing instabilities in countries or create new ones (Selby et al. 2017;Abel et al. 2019;Sofuoğlu and Ay 2020). Instabilities caused by climate change might be shown as migration (Reuveny 2007;Kniveton et al. 2008;McAdam 2012), unrest (Zhang et al. 2005;Nardulli et al. 2015), protests and violence (Scheffran et al. 2012a), conflict (Nordås and Gleditsch 2007;Raleigh 2010;Odoh and Chilaka 2012), terrorism (Eckersley 2008), and war (Zhang et al. 2007;Devitt and Tol 2012). Thereby, climate change leads to the emergence of many new vulnerabilities (Kohler et al. 2019) such as terrorism, social instability, and civil unrest. ...
Chapter
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The study aimed to examine the relationship between climate change and civil disorder in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and North African countries. Countries are divided into two groups according to their political risk index (70 points). Accordingly, the first group of countries comprised France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Malta, and Cyprus, and the second are Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. While the first group represents European countries, the second group is generally the Middle East and North African countries. For the empirical analysis, Dumitrescu and Hurlin (Econ Model 29(4):1450–1460, 2012) panel causality test is utilized to test the causal relationship between precipitation, temperature, and civil disorder covering 2001–2016. According to the empirical results, a cross-sectional dependency in each country group which means a shock in one country affects the other countries in the panel. Causality test results show a causal relationship from temperature to civil disorder in Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, and Greece. However, there is no significant causal relationship from precipitation to civil disorder in any country. The findings show that economic policies and policy choices emerge as an essential tool to deal with climate change.
... Some of these advantages include: (1) does not require the assumption of normality or the assumption of homogeneity of variance (2) compare medians rather than means and, as a result, if the data have one or two outliers, their influence is negated (3) prior transformations are not required, even when approximate normality could be achieved; (4) greater power is achieved for the skewed distributions (5) data below the detection limit can be incorporated without fabrication of values or bias. This method has been used widely across the world to detect trend in ETo and other hydrological variables (Jhajharia and Singh, 2011;Zhang et al. 2005). It is based on the test statics S defined as The null hypothesis (H0), means that no significant trend is present, is accepted if the test statistic (Z) is not statistically significant, i.e. − ∝ 2 ⁄ < < ∝ 2 ⁄ where ∝ 2 ⁄ is the standard normal deviate. ...
Article
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Climate change is one of the most important issues among researchers, scientists, planners and politicians in the present times. Of all the climatic elements, temperature plays a major role in detecting climatic change. In this paper, MannKendall rank tests, Sen’s slope estimator and Lag-one serial correlation are used to demonstrate any existence of possible temperature trends in Ranchi and Lohardaga district of Jharkhand by analyzing the time series data of annual, seasonal and monthly average, maximum and minimum temperature from 1901 to 2002. The statistical tests are applied to monthly, seasonal and annual average minimum and maximum temperatures records. The analysis indicates that the average, maximum and minimum annual temperature records have a warming trend over the period 1901 to 2002. The study of linear trend indicated increasing trends in annual maximum, annual minimum and annual average temperatures. During 1901–2002 annual average, annual maximum and annual minimum temperatures increased about 0.0030C, 0.0020C to 0.0040C and 0.0030C respectively.
... Whether climate change 'causes' human violence, conflict and migration is a subject of great debate among scholars of this field. In our earlier work we pioneered quantitative research on the relationship between climate change and armed conflicts in Chinese and world histories (Zhang et al., 2007(Zhang et al., , 2005. In recent years, a large number of other studies using quantitative methods have emerged and they also identified a strong association between climate change and societal crises generally at macro-scales during the pre-industrial era (Degroot, 2018;Tol and Wagner, 2010). ...
... Further study and cooperation between archaeologists, historians, climate scientists and global catastrophic risk scholars could overcome some of these limitations by identifying how the impacts of climate change translate into social transformation and collapse, and hence what the impacts of more rapid and extreme climatic changes might be. There is also the potential for larger studies into how global climate variations have coincided with collapse and violence at the regional level (Zhang, Chiyung, Chusheng, Yuanqing, & Fung, 2005;Zhang et al., 2006). However, these need to be interpreted and generalized with care given the differences between pre-industrial and modern societies. ...
Article
Many have claimed that climate change is an imminent threat to humanity, but there is no way to verify such claims. This is concerning, especially given the prominence of some of these claims and the fact that they are confused with other well verified and settled aspects of climate science. This paper seeks to build an analytical framework to help explore climate change’s contribution to Global Catastrophic Risk (GCR), including the role of its indirect and systemic impacts. In doing so it evaluates the current state of knowledge about catastrophic climate change and integrates this with a suite of conceptual and evaluative tools that have recently been developed by scholars of GCR and Existential Risk. These tools connect GCR to planetary boundaries, classify its key features, and place it in a global policy context. While the goal of this paper is limited to producing a framework for assessment; we argue that applying this framework can yield new insights into how climate change could cause global catastrophes and how to manage this risk. We illustrate this by using our framework to describe the novel concept of possible’ global systems death spirals,’ involving reinforcing feedback between collapsing sociotechnological and ecological systems.
... In particular, foxtail millet and broomcorn millet were the staple crop for the Lower Xiajiadian people due to the warm climate indicated by fossil charcoals (Jia et al., 2016(Jia et al., , 2021) and our temperature records, which could not grow in the cold conditions such as freezing, or below-freezing temperatures recorded by our MAAT peat and MBT ′ 5ME record. Persistent cold weather and drought has led to crop failure and famine, probably accompanied by epidemic disease, social conflict, and warfare (Zhang et al., 2005). Second, the Horqin Dunefield expanded (Jia et al., 2016) due to cold temperature and low rainfall; meanwhile, vegetation and soil were destroyed more or Annual temperature based on the pollen record from Lake Hulun in NE China (Wen et al., 2010). ...
Article
The role of climatic change in the social transition in NE China during the Bronze Age is poorly understood due to the lack of reliable climate proxy records. Here we report a 3600-yr-long climate record based on branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether distributions in the Jinchuan peat core, Northeastern (NE) China. Our record shows a persistent cooling between ca.3.5–3.0 ka, which coincides with the societal transition from a settled to a mobile lifestyle. Comparing existing records suggests that this event represents a hemispherical-scale cooling probably driven by the prolonged El Niño conditions. The low temperatures caused unfavorable conditions for the agriculture-based society during the Lower Xiajiadian period and thus drove people to flee southward into the North China and Central China Plains, leading to a culturally desolated area that was gradually occupied by pastoralists in about 250 years. Our results highlight the need to consider the interplay of climatic dynamics with social upheaval in understanding the evolution of prehistorical civilization in NE Asia.
... A suitable climate is the basis for human survival and cultural development, and both human evolution and the development of civilization are closely related to climate change [1,2] . During the Last Glacial Period, the mean global temperature was relatively low [3] , and there were several abrupt climate change events, after which the Earth entered warmer conditions of the Holocene. ...
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The global climate underwent tremendous changes during the transition from the Last Glacial Period to the Holocene. At almost the same time, human society transitioned from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic. Therefore, the relationship between climate change and human activity during this period has become a research hotspot.Yunnan Province is a region with a great abundance of Paleolithic archaeological sites in China; however, Neolithic sites are relatively few. There has also been relatively little research on paleoclimatic conditions during the Paleolithic-Neolithic transition in Yunnan. Phytoliths, as a highly durable and long-lasting form of plant microfossils, can be an important means for reconstructing paleoclimates. In this study, we examined the Naminan site in Jinghong, which was occupied during the transitional period from the Paleolithic to Neolithic. Based on our analysis of the phytolith record at Naminan, we reconstructed the climatic conditions for each of the archaeological strata and discussed possible human activities. The results show that Naminan experienced a sequence of warming followed by cooling and warming, which is consistent with previous paleoclimate research in other areas of Yunnan Province.
Article
众多的大数据定量研究证明了在历史时期,极端气候变化能造成中国社会不稳定。但是,已有的研究将温度和降水量作为主要解析变量,欠缺了旱涝灾害对社会动荡影响的大数据定量分析。同时,相关研究也没有分不同地理区域和不同时间尺度进行对比和深入探讨。为解决该问题,本研究对中国三个农业生态区(水稻种植区、小麦种植区和牧业区)开展定量分析,探究公元1470~1911年间中国旱涝灾害与内乱的对应关系。鉴于旱涝与内乱的对应可能是“非线性”和“非固定性”的,我们采用Poisson回归分析和小波一致性分析检测两者关系。结果表明,旱涝灾害诱发了中国历史时期的内乱,但区域差异显著。在水稻种植区,洪涝在年际和数十年际的时间尺度引发内乱;在小麦种植区,洪涝和干旱均在年际和数十年际的时间尺度引发内乱;牧业区的内乱只在数十年际尺度与洪涝相关。此外,在数十年际时间尺度,三个农业生态区的旱涝事件只在人口密度不断增加或处于相对区域承载力较高的水平时段内和内乱显著相关。本研究指出气候-战争的对应关系明显受地区因素如自然环境及人口压力影响,有鉴于此,在研究历史时期的人地关系时,应先把不同地区的数据分割,再以每个地区为单位进行独立分析,这要点有望被广泛应用于后续研究。
Article
The pre-modern history of population change in the Fuping County (Shaanxi Province, China) during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (AD 1368–1911) was reconstructed using historical sources. The Fuping County experienced two major population collapses, i.e. the late Ming Dynasty (1550–1640s) and the 1860–1880s. The first one was caused by the great AD 1556 earthquake and the extreme droughts and warfare in the 1630–1640s. The second one was caused by warfare and extreme droughts. As a whole, natural disasters, including extreme drought and great earthquake, were the key direct causes of population collapse, and climatic cooling would be a potential indirect cause. It is very interesting that population collapses occurred almost synchronously in the Fuping County and whole China, and the trends of population change were also very similar. Climate–population relationship in China would be valid at finer geographic level, and climatic cooling could be a potential indirect cause of population collapse.
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Long-term, high-resolution temperature records which combine an unambiguous proxy and precise dating are rare in China. In addition, the societal implications of past temperature change on regional scale have not been sufficiently assessed. Here, based on the modern relationship between chironomids and temperature, we use fossil chironomid assemblages in a precisely-dated sediment core from Gonghai Lake to explore temperature variability during the past 4000 years in northern China. Subsequently, we address the possible regional societal implications of temperature change through a statistical analysis of the occurrence of wars. Our results show that: (1) the mean annual temperature (TANN) was relatively high from 4000–2700 cal yr BP, decreased gradually from 2700–1270 cal yr BP, and then fluctuated drastically during the last 1270 years. (2) A cold climatic event in the Era of Disunity, the Sui-Tang Warm Period (STWP), the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA) can all be recognized in the paleotemperature record, as well as in many other temperature reconstructions in China. This suggests that our chironomid-inferred temperature record for the Gonghai Lake region is representative. (3) Local wars in Shanxi Province, documented in the historical literature during the past 2700 years, are statistically significantly correlated with changes in temperature, and the relationship is a good example of the potential societal implications of temperature change on a regional scale.
Article
Coastal currents play a key role in regulating alongshore sediment transport, and their relationships with winter storms (burst of the East Asian winter monsoon) and formation of the coastal mud deposits on the eastern China shelf have been established, based on which the evolution of the East Asian winter monsoon has been widely explored. Unlike that of coastal deposits, the formation of offshore deposits on the eastern China shelf is very complex and highly debated, leading to enormous challenges on paleoclimate reconstructions based on these deposits. In this study, cross-front sediment transport under a variable Yellow Sea Warm Current (YSWC) was explored using remote sensing imagery and sedimentary records (seismic profile and sediment grain size) from the North Yellow Sea (NYS). The results indicate that, although the offshore mud deposit in the western NYS is formed by winter storms through triggering cross-front transport of coastal sediment around the Shandong Peninsula, the winter storm signal was completely obscured by that of the YSWC, which might determine the flux of cross-front sediment transport on a millennial scale. The 1500 y sub-orbital climate variability cycle could also be observed in distal muds after 2.8 ka. By comparing the sediment composition within the same mud deposit or between adjacent mud deposits in the NYS, we found that the response of cross-front sediment transport to the YSWC varied spatially, which may be a reason for discrepancies observed in previous winter monsoon reconstructions on the eastern China shelf. Therefore, as indicated by this study, offshore deposits on the eastern China shelf are not suitable for inversions of the winter monsoon. In addition, mud deposits on the eastern China shelf are also dramatically affected by other dynamic factors, including typhoons and river flooding; thus, deeply exploring the dynamic characteristics and formation mechanism of these deposits are prerequisites for paleoclimate reconstruction.
Chapter
This chapter explains the methodological approaches used in this study. First of all, the historical documents and natural proxies are introduced as the basis to understand paleoclimate change. A comparison between direct instrumental measurement and indirect reconstruction is made in this chapter, while considering the fact that past climate change has been reconstructed by those historical documents and natural proxies in an indirect way. Furthermore, this chapter explains the scale issue, which is an important methodological concern bridging history and geography. As the book is constructed as an empirical practice, the data sources and methods adopted are explained in detail. In particular, this chapter fully discusses how the book carries out causal analysis based on five criteria. The book defines the causal relationship in combination with statistical approaches, further distinguishing this book from other works on similar topics in methodology.
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Understanding the regime shifts of Social–Ecological Systems (SES) and their local effects and driving factors over a long period of time is significant for future sustainability. We provide a perspective on the processes unfolding over time in order to identify the regime shifts of an SES based on changes in the relationships between the SES components. In addition, we investigate their driving factors and local effects. The applicability of this approach is demonstrated by analyzing the evolution of the SES in Guizhou Province, China, over the past 600 years. Six evolutionary phases are identified: the slow expansion of cultivation, the rapid expansion of cultivation, the continuous expansion of cultivation, the slower expansion of cultivation, the transformation of ecological protection driven by returning farmland to forest, and green development driven by urbanization. Our study establishes the empirical relationship between the state (phase) of the SES and its driving factors and effects. This study on the evolution, driving factors, and effects of the SES in Guizhou Province, China, provides an important reference for long-term regional planning and policy making.
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The life cycle pattern of empires is pervasive worldwide, and this is caused by multiple factors. In the history of Vietnam, there are totally about ten empires or dynasties, which have aggregately lasted for more than one thousand years. Here, we apply the life cycle model and agent-based modeling to uncover the underlying mechanisms of the life cycle pattern for Vietnam empires. Macroscopically, the man-land relationship greatly shapes the life cycle pattern of traditional agricultural empires. The balancing process between land and population is critical for the empires. The relationship between incomes and costs has determined the actions or strategies of the social members or individuals. It suggests that our optimal solutions and simulations have perfectly matched the real history of Vietnam. Under three optimal solutions, the distributions of simulated and real empire durations in history can be well-matched, in terms of both discrete (histogram) and continuous forms (kernel density). It indicates that the history of human society is a dynamic process, which is determined by certain evolutionary rules and regulations. Therefore, we are able to back-calculate, simulate, and even predict the future of empires or countries.
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Moisture conditions, especially those that occur as multi-decadal anomalies, have profound impacts on society, especially in arid and semi-arid regions. However, the lack of high-resolution climatic data for the first millennium CE greatly limits our understanding how moisture variations have influenced history. Here, we present an 1882-year (134–2015 CE) tree-ring chronology developed from the Qilian juniper ( Juniperus przewalskii Kom.) growing in the western Qilian Mountains, northwest China. The tree-ring index correlates significantly with the May-June self-calibrating Palmer Drought Severity Index (sc-PDSI) and could therefore be used to reconstruct May-June moisture variations since 241 CE. The reconstruction reflects moisture conditions at the annual to multi-decadal time scales over the past two millennia. During the period from the 3rd to 8th centuries, there were prominent interdecadal fluctuations, with the 3rd century and the late 5th century being the wettest and driest periods in the reconstruction, respectively. The transition from the wet 3rd century to the dry 5th century corresponded with key events in Chinese history, namely the demise of the Western Jin Dynasty and the chaotic Southern and Northern Dynasties, as well as the fall of the ancient Loulan Kingdom in eastern Xinjiang. Thus, our reconstruction provides new evidence for the close linkage between abnormal climate conditions and social changes in ancient times.
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Scholars in many disciplines have used diverse methods and sources to establish that, between the 15th and 18th centuries, a “Little Ice Age” considerably cooled Earth's climate. In four particularly chilly periods—the Spörer Minimum, Grindelwald Fluctuation, Maunder Minimum, and Dalton Minimum—falling temperatures both caused and reflected changes in atmospheric circulation that altered regional patterns of precipitation. Many scholars have argued that weather in these cold periods provoked or worsened regional food shortages, famines, rebellions, wars, and outbreaks of epidemic disease, in ways that may have contributed to mass mortality across the early modern world. More recently, some scholars have contrasted the fates of societies or communities that were “vulnerable” to climate change with those that were “resilient” or even consciously or unconsciously adaptive in the face of the Little Ice Age. Overall, research that connects climatic and social histories has suggested that human decisions, political structures, economic arrangements, institutions, and cultures either magnified or mitigated the impact of climate change on the societies of the early modern world. This article is categorized under: • Climate, History, Society, Culture > Major Historical Eras
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The life cycle pattern is pervasive for both natural and social sciences, from human behaviors to social systems. Based on the life cycle model of collective actions, the man–land relationship governs the rise and fall cycles, namely dynastic cycles. We combine agent-based modeling, systemic dynamics, and numerical simulations, to build the life cycle model of empires. It aims to investigate the rise and fall process of 18 major dynasties (empires) in history of China, from BC 221 to AD 1912. The core aim is to find optimal solutions, which achieve the best matching between simulations and real history. According to our algorithm, the optimal solutions can be obtained, when we have the minimal span differences (gaps) between simulated and real empires. First, we traverse all related parameters, and select simulations with 18 empires. Second, we select the cases with the total ticks between 2122 and 2132 years (ticks). Third, we select cases whose differences (gaps) are within 20 years. Finally, we obtain three optimal solutions (combinations of parameters) whose validity (100 simulations) and robustness (1000 simulations) have been checked. It seems that our life cycle model has achieved the best fitness to real empires in the history of China. For distributive matching of durations (spans), both discrete and continuous forms can be matched. Besides, the simulate and real durations can be matched as well, under counterfactual inferences of 16–17, 18 & 19–20 pairs. Based on our model, the whole history process of China can be back-calculated. Therefore, it seems that the trend of human history (society) may be an automatic process, which cannot be altered by man’s will.
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Did climate change cause wars in history? While a growing number of quantitative studies (particularly in the field of geography) illustrate the climate-war nexus in pre-industrial societies, there are opposing opinions on the subject. Such conflicting views invite us to reconsider whether the climate-war nexus can be conceptualized as a yes/no dichotomy. This paper seeks to address this issue. I will first recapitulate the key findings of those quantitative studies of geographers that substantiate the significant role of climate deterioration in causing wars. Then I will pinpoint those issues that complicate the conceptualization of the climate-war nexus, indicating that the nexus cannot be taken as a simple yes/no question. Finally, I will propose a research approach that may facilitate a productive interdisciplinary collaboration, perhaps between geographers and historians, to conduct research on the interconnection between climate change and wars in history. I hope that the interpretation of the climate-war nexus can move away from a dichotomy of yes/no, and the multiple dimensions of wars and social resilience to climate change will be thoroughly considered. Also, the advantages of geography and history could be integrated to enrich understanding of the climate-war nexus in history.
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Documenting climate change over the past 2000 years, or the Common Era, is critical to understand how the climate system evolved from one controlled by natural forcings alone to one influenced by anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing. However, global and regional temperature changes during this interval are still poorly understood, largely due to the limited geographical coverage and scarcity of data. Here we report a well-dated, quantitative, mean annual air temperature (MAAT) record with ∼10-yr resolution for the Common Era derived from a sediment core collected at a small alpine lake in remote subtropical southwestern China, and based on a site-specific temporal calibration between down-core analyses of brGDGTs and instrumental data for the interval 1959–2015 AD. The record reveals distinct multicentennial-scale temperature fluctuations, including a relatively cold interval from 0–800 AD, followed by warmer temperatures during the so-called Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA; 800–1400 AD), cooling during the Little Ice Age (LIA; 1400–1900 AD), and abrupt and rapid warming into the late-20th-century after 1900 AD. Superimposed on these large-scale features are three short-term cold events, centered on 250–310 AD (∼0.06 °C), 570–650 AD (∼0.87 °C), and 1800–1823 AD (∼0.83 °C), respectively. The temperature variations captured in the record are supported by historical documents and existing regional and global paleoclimate records, and correspond in time to a number of the major Chinese dynastic transitions. Importantly, the record captures large-magnitude (up to 4 °C) centennial-scale temperature fluctuations, documents cold conditions during the first millennium AD, and demonstrates that the post-1989 AD warmth is greater than any other time during the past 2000 years. The results suggest that high-elevation areas have been more sensitive than low-elevation regions to climate variations during the Common Era.
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The social impact of past climate change is one of the key areas of study relating to global climate change, particularly its ability to provide valuable lessons for dealing with ongoing challenges of global climate change. Drawing on the abundant historical literature, many recent studies have examined the social impacts of climate change in China during the past 2000 years. This paper reviews the main progress of these studies in three parts. First, a concept model based on the food security in relation to global climate change has been constructed, which can then be used to interpret impact-response processes of climate change in the history of China. Second, we derive a methodology for quantifying the impact of historical climate change, drawing on a series of 4 key social and economic sequences at a 10-year resolution. These have been reconstructed based on the semantic differential method over the past 2000 years in China. Third, using a variety of statistical analyses, we update the understanding of climate impacts throughout the history of China. The overall impacts of climate were negative in the cold periods and positive in the warm periods, at decadal to centennial scales during Chinese history. However, the impacts seemed a mixed blessing both in the cold or warm periods. The social-economic development and population growth in warm periods would intensify the natural resource shortage and disequilibria in the human-environment system, especially when encountering abrupt climate changes. Adaptation to adverse climate change could not only help people to avoid hardship whilst maximizing profits, but also expanded the capabilities for the continual development of Chinese civilization.
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We develop a framework for studying state division and unification, and as a case study we focus on modelling the territorial patterns in imperial China during periods of unity and upheaval. As a modelling tool we employ discrete dynamical systems and analyse two models: the logistic map and a new class of maps, which we name ren maps. The critical transitions exhibited by the models can be used to capture the process of territorial division but also unification. We outline certain limitations of uni-modal, smooth maps for our modelling purposes and propose ren maps as an alternative, which we use to reproduce the territorial dynamics over time. As a result of the modelling we arrive at a quantitative measure for asabiyyah, a notion of group solidarity, whose secular cycles match the historical record over 1800 years, from the time of the Warring States to the beginning of the Ming dynasty. Furthermore, we also derive an equation for aggregate asabiyyah which can be employed in other cases of interest.
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Over the past millennium, there have been several precipitation–temperature cycles characterized by instabilities in the eastern monsoon region in China, but the processes, factors, and anthropogenic activities potentially responsible remain poorly understood. In this study, we present an analysis of phytoliths from borehole core drilled through an ombrotrophic peat mire in Jiangxi Province, China. Our results record three climatic episodes over the past 1300 year: a warmer interval, c. 800–1305 CE, similar to the Medieval Warm Period (MWP); a cooler interval, c. 1305–1860 CE, similar to the Little Ice Age (LIA); and another warmer interval, as the climate entered the Present Warm Period (PWP) after c. 1860 CE. Quantitative analysis of phytolith assemblages demonstrates that the MWP comprised two intervals: the early MWP, c. 800–1140 CE, was progressively wetter in a warm–dry setting and late MWP, c. 1140–1305 CE, was warm and humid. The LIA also comprised two intervals: the early LIA, c. 1305–1610 CE, was cool and dry, and the late LIA, c. 1610–1860 CE was cool and humid. Some abrupt climate events occurred at: (1) c. 1050, 1110–1130, and 1780–1845 CE (wet events); (2) c. 1980–1990 CE (dry events); (3) c. 920 and 1770 CE (warm events); (4) c. 980 and 1050 CE (cold events). The transition from the MWP to the LIA, as indicated by phytoliths, was a gradual process that took c. 100 years, and exhibited frequent temperature fluctuations. Correlations between the phytolith assemblages and the solar activity, East Asia Summer Monsoon, El Niño, and La Niña are evident. Solar maxima and La Niña-like conditions are related to warmer and humid conditions that led to clay–sand accumulation during the MWP. Solar minima and El Niño-like conditions were associated with a cold and wet climate that led to peat accumulation during the LIA. These observations provide important insights into paleoclimatic change in the eastern monsoonal region of China, and provide a basis on which to understand the response of the Xishan Mountains in SE China to the MWP and LIA, and explore centennial-scale climate fluctuations and their driving mechanisms.
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Researchers mostly ascribe contemporary natural disaster and the concomitant social crisis to anomalous climate change or global warming. However, whether such a relationship is still valid in long-term historical settings remains doubtful. In this study, data obtained from historical records about natural calamities (flood and drought) and their social impacts (famine, cannibalism, and war) at provincial and decadal scales during AD1–1910 are applied to mathematical statistics such as correlation and regression analysis as well as spatial visualization. Also, the role of population in the nexus of meteorological catastrophes and human miseries is investigated. Results show that at the provincial scale, generally there is high consistency among different variables and most of them are clustered in eastern part of China, especially in the north. More in-depth examinations indicate regional disparities that variables account for higher proportion in the south during the later imperial era, which may be attributed to the southward movement of population center. At the decadal scale, drought is the primary contributor to famine and cannibalism, while severe or even out-of-control famine i.e. cannibalism is more likely to incur war than ordinary famine per se. Besides, population growth rate exerts its positive effect on natural hazards and food crises, whereas more wars bring population loss and relieve population stress despite the weak negative association. These findings supplement previous views and confirm that the distributions of disasters in ancient China are affected by population rather than climatic variability, which only determines the occurrence of disaster.
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As the globe has witnessed the pandemic, epidemic diseases exert a strong impact on human beings and ecosystems. Since the Sun is the primary energy source of the Earth, some scientific pioneers attempted to search for the discernible relation between solar activity and the incidence of epidemics. In this study, the periodic changes and trends of ancient Chinese epidemic data were analyzed in comparison with those of sunspot numbers, a solar activity proxy. The results show that the epidemic and solar activity changes are in good agreement to a certain extent, especially during the Gleissberg and the de Vries cycles. The wavelet coherence shows that the frequency of the epidemic data and sunspot numbers are highly associated. In addition, results from the ensemble empirical mode decomposition illustrate consistent variations in low-frequency decompositions. This study has important implications for further understanding of the potential impact of solar activity on Earth’s biosphere, the underlying mechanism of which needs further exploration.
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Understanding past human-environment interactions over a long time-scale offers an analogue to predict, adapt and mitigate the environmental issues caused by global change and human activities in the future. The transient existence of historical cities from arid northern China can provide a valuable reference for this issue. In this study, we investigated a set of sand dunes which accumulated alongside the city wall of South Heishuiguo ancient city (SHC) from the middle Hexi Corridor in arid northern China. Dating these dune sands can provide the timing of both desertification and city abandonment. A series of sand samples (a total of 20) were collected, and their ages were determined by luminescence dating of K-feldspar fraction. The results suggest an abrupt sand dune accumulation between 0.40 ± 0.03 ka and 0.25 ± 0.02 ka, corresponding to 1590–1790 CE. This study confirms a phase of desertification between the late 16th century and the late 18th century in the Hexi Corridor, and the abandonment of the SHC at the ~17th century. In order to assess the anthropogenic influences on desertification, we also reconstructed the population history of the Hexi Corridor over the last 2000 years based on historical literature as a quantitative index of human activity intensity. By comparison of the timing of onset of desertification around the SHC with robust paleoclimate and historical population reconstructions, we conclude that (1) the desertification of 1590–1790 CE was likely the result of considerably enhanced human activities between the late Ming and the early Qing Dynasties, as this period was dominated by a relatively moist climate and could restrain the sand deflation; and (2) the desertification in turn caused abandonment of SHC as the impact of environmental changes on people.
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This book provides a history of the way in which literature not only reflects, but actively shapes processes of globalization and our notions of global phenomena. It takes in a broad sweep of history, from antiquity, through to the era of imperialism and on to the present day. Whilst its primary focus is our own historical conjuncture, it looks at how earlier periods have shaped this by tracking key concepts that are imbricated with the concept of globalization, from translation, to empire, to pandemics and environmental collapse. Drawing on these older themes and concerns, it then traces the germ of the relation between global phenomena and literary studies into the 20th and 21st centuries, exploring key issues and frames of study such as contemporary slavery, the digital, world literature and the Anthropocene.
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Modern complex societies exhibit marked resilience to interannual-to- decadal droughts, but cultural responses to multidecadal-to-multicentury droughts can only be addressed by integrating detailed archaeological and paleoclimatic records. Four case studies drawn from New and Old World civilizations document societal responses to prolonged drought, including population dislocations, urban abandonment, and state collapse. Further study of past cultural adaptations to persistent climate change may provide valuable perspective on possible responses of modern societies to future climate change.
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We derive an optimal Northern Hemisphere mean surface temperature reconstruction from terrestrial borehole temperature profiles spanning the past five centuries. The pattern of borehole ground surface temperature (GST) reconstructions displays prominent discrepancies with instrumental surface air temperature (SAT) estimates during the 20th century, suggesting the presence of a considerable amount of noise and/or bias in any underlying spatial SAT signal. The vast majority of variance in the borehole dataset is efficiently retained by its two leading eigenvectors. A sizable share of the variance in the first eigenvector appears to be associated with non-SAT related bias in the borehole data. A weak but detectable SAT signal appears to be described by a combination of the first two eigenvectors. Exploiting this eigendecomposition, application of optimal signal estimation methods yields a hemispheric borehole SAT reconstruction that is largely consistent with instrumental data available in past centuries, and is indistinguishable in its major features from several published long-term temperature estimates based on both climate proxy data and model simulations.
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Three alternate China-wide temperature composites covering the last 2000 years were established by combining multiple paleoclimate proxy records obtained from ice cores, tree rings, lake sediments and historical documents. Five periods of temperature variation can be identified: a warm stage in AD 0–240, a cold interval between AD 240 and 800, a return to warm conditions from AD 800–1400, including the Medieval Warm Period between AD 800–1100, the cool Little Ice Age period between 1400–1920, and the present warm stage since 1920. Regional temperature variation is found during AD 800–1100, when warm conditions occurred in Eastern China and in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau and in AD 1150–1380, when the southern Tibetan Plateau experienced a warm interval. In contrast, evidence for cool conditions during the LIA is more consistent among the proxy records. The temperature reconstructions for China and the Northern Hemisphere show good agreement over the past millennium.
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Palaeoclimatology provides our only means of assessing climatic variations before the beginning of instrumental records. The various proxy variables used, however, have a number of limitations which must be adequately addressed and understood. Besides their obvious spatial and seasonal limitations, different proxies are also potentially limited in their ability to represent climatic variations over a range of different timescales. Simple correlations with instrumental data over the period since ad 1881 give some guide to which are the better proxies, indicating that coral- and ice-core-based reconstructions are poorer than tree-ring and historical ones. However, the quality of many proxy time series can deteriorate during earlier times. Suggestions are made for assessing proxy quality over longer periods than the last century by intercomparing neighbouring proxies and, by comparisons with less temporally resolved proxies such as borehole temperatures. We have averaged 17 temperature reconstructions (representing various seasons of the year), all extending back at least to the mid-seventeenth century, to form two annually resolved hemispheric series (NH10 and SH7). Over the 1901–91 period, NH10 has 36% variance in common with average NH summer (June to August) temperatures and 70% on decadal timescales. SH7 has 16% variance in common with average SH summer (December to February) temperatures and 49% on decadal timescales, markedly poorer than the reconstructed NH series. The coldest year of the millennium over the NH is ad 1601, the coldest decade 1691–1700 and the seventeenth is the coldest century. A Principal Components Analysis (PCA) is performed on yearly values for the 17 reconstructions over the period ad 1660–1970. The correlation between PC1 and NH10 is 0.92, even though PC1 explains only 13.6% of the total variance of all 17 series. Similar PCA is performed on thousand-year-long General Circulation Model (GCM) data from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) and the Hadley Centre (HADCM2), sampling these for the same locations and seasons as the proxy data. For GFDL, the correlation between its PC1 and its NH10 is 0.89, while for HADCM2 the PCs group markedly differently. Cross-spectral analyses are performed on the proxy data and the GFDL model data at two different frequency bands (0.02 and 0.03 cycles per year). Both analyses suggest that there is no large-scale coherency in the series on these timescales. This implies that if the proxy data are meaningful, it should be relatively straightforward to detect a coherent near-global anthropogenic signal in surface temperature data.
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Phenological cold/warm events recorded in Chinese historical documents are used to reconstruct, at 10–30 years' resolution, winter half-year (October to April) temperatures for the past 2000 years in the central region of eastern China. Because of the uneven spatial and temporal distribution of the phenological records, the reconstruction of the regional mean temperature involves two steps: reconstruction for individual sites within the region and calculation of the regional mean. For a single site, the reconstruction involves: identifying the difference in dates in phenological events for both historical and modern records; establishing the conversion function between the date difference and temperature change from the modern records; and converting the historical records into temperature variation. The spatial representativeness of the individual sites is studied by examining the correlation between individual sites and regional mean temperature from modern instrumental data. The correlation is then used as the basis for constructing the regional mean winter half-year temperature for the past 2000 years. From the beginning of the Christian era, climate became cooler at a rate of 0.17°C per century, and around the ad 490s temperature reached about 1°C lower than that of the present (the 1951– 80 mean). Then, abruptly, temperature entered a warm epoch from the ad 570s to 1310s with a warming trend of 0.04°C per century; the peak warming was about 0.3–0.6°C higher than present for 30-year periods, but over 0.9°C warmer on a 10-year basis. After the ad 1310s, temperature decreased rapidly at a rate of 0.10°C per century; the mean temperatures of the four cold troughs were 0.6–0.9°C lower than the present, with the coldest value 1.1°C lower. Temperature has been rising rapidly during the twentieth century, especially for the period 1981–99, and the mean temperature is now 0.5°C higher than for 1951–80. The most interesting aspect over the past 2000 years has been the rapid transitions between cold and warm periods.
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A great deal of palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic evidence suggests that a predominant temperature drop and an aridification occurred at ca. 4.0 ka BP. Palaeoclimate studies in China support this dedution. The collapse of ancient civilizations at ca. 4.0 ka BP in the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia has been attributed to climate-induced aridification. A widespread alternation of the ancient cultures was also found in China at ca. 4.0 ka BP in concert with the collapse of the civilizations in the Old World. Palaeoclimatic studies indicate that the abrupt climate change at 4.0 ka BP is one of the realizations of the cold phase in millennial scale climate oscillations, which may be related to the modulation of the Thermohaline Circulation (THC) over the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, this study conducts a numerical experiment of a GCM with SST forcing to simulate the impact of the weakening of the THC. Results show a drop in temperature from North Europe, the northern middle East Asia, and northern East Asia and a significant reduction of precipitation in East Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Peninsula, and the Yellow River Valley. This seems to support the idea that coldness and aridification at ca. 4.0 ka BP was caused by the weakening of the THC.
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Building on recent studies, we attempt hemispheric temperature reconstructions with proxy data networks for the past millennium. We focus not just on the reconstructions, but the uncertainties therein, and important caveats. Though expanded uncertainties prevent decisive conclusions for the period prior to AD 1400, our results suggest that the latter 20th century is anomalous in the context of at least the past millennium. The 1990s was the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, at moderately high levels of confidence. The 20th century warming counters a millennial-scale cooling trend which is consistent with long-term astronomical forcing.
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The archaeological and historical record shows many instances of societal collapse. These events have traditionally been explained by a combination of social, political, and economic factors. In their Perspective, [Weiss and Bradley][1] argue that there is increasing evidence for climate as the primary agent in the collapse of prehistoric and early historic societies. They also consider the possible effects of future anthropogenic climate change. [1]: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/291/5504/609
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A 2650-year (BC665-AD1985) warm season (MJJA: May, June, July, August) temperature reconstruction is derived from a correlation between thickness variations in annual layers of a stalagmite from Shihua Cave, Beijing, China and instrumental meteorological records. Observations of soil CO2 and drip water suggest that the temperature signal is amplified by the soil-organism-CO2 system and recorded by the annual layer series. Our reconstruction reveals that centennial-scale rapid warming occurred repeatedly following multicentenial cooling trends during the last millennia. These results correlate with different records from the Northern Hemisphere, indicating that the periodic alternation between cool and warm periods on a sub-millennial scale had a subhemispherical influence.
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Modern complex societies exhibit marked resilience to interannual-to- decadal droughts, but cultural responses to multidecadal-to-multicentury droughts can only be addressed by integrating detailed archaeological and paleoclimatic records. Four case studies drawn from New and Old World civilizations document societal responses to prolonged drought, including population dislocations, urban abandonment, and state collapse. Further study of past cultural adaptations to persistent climate change may provide valuable perspective on possible responses of modern societies to future climate change.
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Columnar stalagmites in caves of the Guadalupe Mountains during the late Holocene record a 4000-year annually resolved climate history for the southwestern United States. Annual banding, hiatuses, and high-precision uranium-series dating show a present day–like climate from 4000 to 3000 years ago, following a drier middle Holocene. A distinctly wetter and cooler period from 3000 to 800 years ago was followed by a period of present day–like conditions, with the exception of a slightly wetter interval from 440 to 290 years before the present. The stalagmite record correlates well with the archaeological record of changes in cultural activities of indigenous people. Such climate change may help to explain evidence of dwelling abandonment and population redistribution.
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Preserving multicentennial climate variability in long tree-ring records is critically important for reconstructing the full range of temperature variability over the past 1000 years. This allows the putative “Medieval Warm Period” (MWP) to be described and to be compared with 20th-century warming in modeling and attribution studies. We demonstrate that carefully selected tree-ring chronologies from 14 sites in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) extratropics can preserve such coherent large-scale, multicentennial temperature trends if proper methods of analysis are used. In addition, we show that the average of these chronologies supports the large-scale occurrence of the MWP over the NH extratropics.
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A 2650-year (BC665-AD1985) warm season (MJJA: May, June, July, August) temperature reconstruction is derived from a correlation between thickness variations in annual layers of a stalagmite from Shihua Cave, Beijing, China and instrumental meteorological records. Observations of soil CO2 and drip water suggest that the temperature signal is amplified by the soil-organism-CO2 system and recorded by the annual layer series. Our reconstruction reveals that centennial-scale rapid warming occurred repeatedly following multicentenial cooling trends during the last millennia. These results correlate with different records from the Northern Hemisphere, indicating that the periodic alternation between cool and warm periods on a sub-millennial scale had a sub-hemispherical influence.
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A frequent conclusion based on study of individual records from the so-called Medieval Warm Period (~1000-1300 A.D.) is that the present warmth of the 20th century is not unusual and therefore cannot be taken as an indication of forced climate change from greenhouse gas emissions. This conclusion is not supported by published composites of Northern Hemisphere climate change, but the conclusions of such syntheses are often either ignored or challenged. In this paper, we revisit the controversy by incorporating additional time series not used in earlier hemispheric compilations. Another difference is that the present reconstruction uses records that are only 900-1000 years long, thereby, avoiding the potential problem of uncertainties introduced by using different numbers of records at different times. Despite clear evidence for Medieval warmth greater than present in some individual records, the new hemispheric composite supports the principal conclusion of earlier hemispheric reconstructions and, furthermore, indicates that maximum Medieval warmth was restricted to two-three 20-30 year intervals, with composite values during these times being only comparable to the mid-20th century warm time interval. Failure to substantiate hemispheric warmth greater than the present consistently occurs in composites because there are significant offsets in timing of warmth in different regions; ignoring these offsets can lead to serious errors concerning inferences about the magnitude of Medieval warmth and its relevance to interpretation of late 20th century warming.
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s The developmental trajectories of North China and the Southeast Coast during the middle and late imperial periods are surveyed to illustrate the recurrence of regional macrocycles of development and decline and to show that such cycles may be unsynchronized as between regions. These cases provide a basis for arguing that economic macrocycles are a systemic property—not of provinces or of the empire as a whole but of regional economies viewed as internally differentiated and interdependent systems of human interaction. An exploration of the relation between regional developmental cycles and the Chinese dynastic cycle concludes that the latter was mediated by the former. It is suggested that regional developmental cycles are cycles not only of economic prosperity and depression but also of population growth and decline, of social development and devolution, and of peace and disorder. China's historical structure, then, is seen as an internested hierarchy of local and regional histories whose scope in each case is grounded in the spatial patterning of human interaction, and whose critical temporal structures are successive cyclical episodes. The uses of such an historiographic model are briefly explored.
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Warfare is seen as an adaptive ecological choice under conditions of population growth and resource limitation. Its major significance in the formation of the state lay in its ability to negate evolutionary constraints inherent in ranked societies. The evolutionary significance of warfare is discussed in terms of processes of cultural change which are largely internal.
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Chinese population statistics are collated from the time of the Western Han Dynasty (A.D. 2) to 19 5 3, including statistics of population and households for provinces as well as for China as a whole. Evidence bearing on the definitions of the statistics, methods of compilation, and reliability of the figures as measures of population size and change, is summarized. An "emended series " of population totals for China proper, A.D. 2 to 1953 is presented, excluding figures which are clearly defective.
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Development of an annual mean temperature series of China for the period of AD 1880-1998 indicated that 1998 was thie wanrest year since 1880. During 1998, temperature was 1.38C higher than the normal (1961-90). Annual mean temperatures of China were found using a weighted average of 10 regional series, whliich covei-ed the xvhole lanid ai-ea of the coutliry fromii Xinjiang and Tibet iI the west to Tailwan i the eCast. Gaps in temperatture obseivations were filled by USing ice-core i' 0 and tie iing data for thice regions in the west. and docuimenitary data for scven regions in the east. Since 1 951. only obser X ational data were usecl. Fiftyyear mean teiimperatture anomnalies were calculated trom the ninth to trwentietlh cernturies. The series do not show any conisistenit warm peiliod in west China durinig the 'Mediaeval Warmii Period (AD 900 to 1300), but temiperatures in east China in At) 850-1099 anid 1200-99 were abouit 0.2C higher than the average for recent years. Centurv-mean ternperatures combininlg west and east re0}ions fi-rom t'he niintlh to twentieth centuries slhowed thlat the twenitieth centLiry was 0.4 C wa5-5.1mid than the imieani of the wshole period. Tempeiatures of the ninith, tenith, clev entli amdI thli-tcentirh cintl aes i xx're oily Slight)y .O.05---0. 0"C) I:mchr thn tl' x avragW. The-retce. tl e twentieth century seems the wamiiest one in China for the last ilmilleniiitiniu or miiore. The last imiillenniumi xvas not the wannest one in comparing with others for the last 10 miilleiinia. Ten regional temperatuLre series from 1O ka BP to the p-esent xweccanalysed wcith the same time r-esolutioni (205ra) awld identical normiial (I 880 1 9791. Gaps in a few ser-ies were filled by the data fromii preViois woirk. Average temperatures were also founid on the hasis of area xveiehting of regional series, showing that the Megatlhemmial was maniifested xwell in China, witli teriiperatures for thie period of 8.0 to 3.0 ka BP fromi 1 5 to 2.)0C liglher tlhani the presenit. Studies of the relationship between temperature and precipitatioti indicated no consistenit correlation. I-loxever, warmdiy dominated oxer wanrm-wet climiiate in niorth Chilna. but the opposite is the case in the very south anid in the west. In east Chinla, the twenitietlh cenltury was probably tIre driest one dur-ing the last millenlnium. Severe droughts occurred itn 20 of the 100 scimmiiiiers of 1900-1999, hut the miieani frequiecy xwas only 10.6 per ceinttiry.
Article
The high-resolution records of δ18O and snow accumulation variations from the Guliya ice core provide valuable data for research on climatic variations at a decadal resolution during the past 2000 years in China. Based on the ice core data, five spells have been divided: the warm and wet period before 270 AD, the cold and dry period between 280 and 970 AD, the moderate and dry period between 970 and 1510 AD, the well-defined” Little Ice Age “with drastic cold-warm fluctuations between 1510 and 1930 AD and the warming period since 1930 AD. According to the combination of temperature and precipitation, cold events (55 times) surpass warm ones (26 times), and dry events (55 times) slupass wet ones (45 times). Cold-wet events (14 times) are less than cold-dry ones (16 times), while warm-wet events (10 times) are more than warm-dry ones (4 times). If the difference of2%c in δ18O (corresponding to 3K in temperature) between two or three adjacent decades is taken as the criterion of it, the abrupt change has taken place 33 times or so since the 3rd century. Among them are four large ones, occurring in 250–280, 550–580, 1220–1260, and 1520–1560 AD respectively. Comparison of the ice core data with the latest comprehensive research results on historical documents of East China shows that the great climatic events appeared simultaneously or at the same age in the ice core record and in the documentary data, suggesting that consistences and similarities in climatic variation among different areas are far away from each other in the lower to mid-latitudes. However, there is a great difference between them during the Medieval Warm Period, which is conspicuous in the historical documents but not in the ice core. In addition, the first cold event of the Little Ice Age on East China was 60 years earlier than that of the Guliya Ice Cap, when the degree of cwling in West China is more intensive than that of East China. But the third cold event in East China lagged behind that in West China during the late 19th century. The 1820s cold event in both West and East China may be caused by the magnificent Tambora volcanic eruption in 1815
Article
The interbeddings of the aeolian sand dune facies and the fluvio-lacustrine and paleosol facies in the Milanggouwan stratigraphic section have been examined by a series of geological methods, including grain size, magnetic susceptibility, sporo-pollen and fossil analyses along with various dating methods. The results showed a basic difference in depositional environments between the sand dune facies and the fluvio-lacustrine and paleosol facies. At least 27 cycles of alternate depositions of the aeolian dune sands and the fluvio-lacustrine facies and/or paleosols from 150 ka B.P. have been discovered in the Mu Us Desert. These cycles reflect the climatic variations that were induced by the growth and decline and confrontation between the winter monsoon and the summer monsoon of East Asia in the past 150 ka. The sporo-pollen and magnetic susceptibility analyses suggest a great increase of rainfall (+40–120%) and temperature (2–6°C) during the prevailing summer monsoon periods. This is the only sedimentary profile that represents the climatic variations of millennial scale in the desert areas of north China for the late Quaternary. The high-resolution results on paleo-monsoon variations from the section may indicate sensitive reactions of the margin desert to climatic changes.
Article
Millennium-old alerce trees (Fitzroya cupressoides (Mol.) Johnst.) have been used to develop a 1120-year reconstruction of the summer temperature departures for the Andes of northern Patagonia in Argentina. Four main climatic episodes can be distinguished in this proxy paleoclimatic record. The first, a cold and moist interval from A.D. 900 to 1070, was followed by a warm-dry period from A.D. 1080 to 1250 correlative with the Medieval warm epoch of Europe. Afterward, a long, cold-moist period followed from A.D. 1270 to 1670, peaking around A.D. 1340 and 1650. These cold maxima are contemporaneous with two principal Little Ice Age events registered in the Northern Hemisphere. Warmer conditions then resumed between A.D. 1720 and 1790. These episodes are supported by glaciological and palynological data in Patagonia. Following a cold period in the early 1800s, tree-ring indices have oscillated around the long-term mean, except for a warmer period from A.D. 1850 to 1890. Correlations between the Rio Alerce reconstruction and the regional weather stations indicate that the tree-ring variations are correlated with a homogeneous summer weather pattern covering Patagonia east of the Andes from 38° to 50°S.
Article
Changes in the East Asian paleomonsoon reflect interactions between the global atmosphere, ocean, land and ice systems, and are also an expression of their combined effect within the boundary conditions imposed by the East Asian continent and solar radiation. The history of the East Asian monsoon is an alternation between dominance by the dry-cold winter and warm-humid summer monsoons. High-resolution eolian sequences preserved in the Chinese Loess Plateau reveal that the East Asian monsoon may have commenced at least 7.2 Ma ago. They also provide evidence indicating that the pulsed uplift of the Tibetan Plateau at about 3.4 and 7.2 Ma may have played an important role in inducing climate change. The palaeoclimatic records of the last glacial cycle show high-frequency variability on time scales of 1000-year or even shorter, and instability of the East Asian paleomonsoon system. The high-frequency variability could be due to a non-linear response to orbital forcing, or a result of the coupling processes between different components of the global system. Cold air activity in northern high latitudes, the trans-equatorial air streams from the Southern Hemisphere and, possibly, ENSO may have played an important role in East Asian monsoon variability. The synchroneity of all the palaeoclimatic events along the polar-equator-polar (PEP) transect is still an open question. Correlation of limited palaeoclimatic records for the last 30 kyr obtained from East Asia and Australia suggests that the trans-equatorial air streams driven by the monsoon and trade winds may have had an influence on opposite hemispheres.
Article
Over vast areas of the world's landmasses, where climate beats out a strong seasonal rhythm, tree growth keeps unerring time. In their rings, trees record many climate melodies, played in different places and different eras. Recent years have seen a consolidation and expansion of tree-ring sample collections across the traditional research areas of North America and Europe, and the start of major developments in many new areas of Eurasia, South America and Australasia. From such collections are produced networks of precisely dated chronologies; records of various aspects of tree growth, registered continuously, year by year across many centuries. Their sensitivities to different climate parameters are now translated into ever more detailed histories of temperature and moisture variability across expanding dimensions of time and space. With their extensive coverage, high temporal resolution and rigid dating control, dendroclimatic reconstructions contribute significantly to our knowledge of late Holocene climates, most importantly on timescales ranging from 1 to 100 years. In special areas of the world, where trees live for thousands of years or where subfossil remnants of long dead specimens are preserved, work building chronologies covering many millennia continues apace. Very recently, trees have provided important new information about major modes of general circulation dynamics linked to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation, and about the effect of large volcanic eruptions. As for assessing the significance of 20th century global warming, the evidence from dendroclimatology in general, supports the notion that the last 100 years have been unusually warm, at least within a context of the last two millennia. However, this evidence should not be considered equivocal. The activities of humans may well be impacting on the `natural’ growth of trees in different ways, making the task of isolating a clear climate message subtly difficult.
Article
Tree-ring records play an important role in reconstructing climate change patterns over the last millenium. In their Perspective, [Briffa and Osborn][1] highlight the report by [ Esper et al .][2] of a largely independent record of widespread tree-growth variations across the extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere. Estimates of past temperature changes based on the record suggest that climate swings in the last 1000 years were greater than has yet been generally accepted. [1]: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/295/5563/2227 [2]: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/295/5563/2250
Article
In summary, then, the circumscription theory in its elaborated form goes far toward accounting for the origin of the state. It explains why states arose where they did, and why they failed to arise elsewhere. It shows the state to be a predictable response to certain specific cultural, demographic, and ecological conditions. Thus, it helps to elucidate what was undoubtedly the most important single step ever taken in the political evolution of mankind.
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