Publication details

Climate change affected the spatio-temporal occurrence of disasters in China over the past five centuries


YAN Chuan TIAN Huidong WAN Xinru HE Jinxing REN Guoyu BÜNTGEN Ulf STENSETH Nils Chr. ZHANG Zhibin

Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Royal Society Open Science
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords disasters; climate change; heterogeneous response; monsoon; westerlies
Description Climate change may contribute to the spatio-temporal occurrence of disasters. Long-term studies of either homogeneous or heterogeneous responses of historical disasters to climate change are, however, limited by the quality and quantity of the available proxy data. Here we reconstruct spatio-temporal patterns of five types of disasters in China during the period AD 1368-1911. Our analyses of these time series reveal that warmer temperatures decreased the occurrence of disasters in the monsoon-affected parts of central-east China, but it increased the frequency and intensity of disasters along the boundary of arid and humid conditions in parts of southwest and northeast China, probably driven by the interplay among monsoon, westerlies, polar vortex and variation of temperature. Moreover, we show that drought and flood events had cascading effects on the occurrences of locust outbreaks, famine and human epidemics. Our findings suggest that climate can contribute to the spatio-temporal occurrence of disasters, and therefore may contribute to an improvement of China's regional to national risk management of future climate and environmental change.

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