A Chinese cave links climate change, social impacts and human adaptation over the last 500 years

Tan, Liangcheng, Cai, Yanjun, An, Zhisheng, Cheng, Hai, Shen, Chuan-Chou, Breitenbach, Sebastian, Gao, Yongli, Edwards, R. Lawrence, Zhang, Haiwei and Du, Yajuan (2015) A Chinese cave links climate change, social impacts and human adaptation over the last 500 years. Scientific Reports, 5 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/srep12284

Abstract

The collapse of some pre-historical and historical cultures, including Chinese dynasties were presumably linked to widespread droughts, on the basis of synchronicities of societal crises and proxy-based climate events. Here, we present a comparison of ancient inscriptions in Dayu Cave from Qinling Mountains, central China, which described accurate times and detailed impacts of seven drought events during the period of 1520–1920 CE, with high-resolution speleothem records from the same cave. The comparable results provide unique and robust tests on relationships among speleothem δ18O changes, drought events, and societal unrest. With direct historical evidences, our results suggest that droughts and even modest events interrupting otherwise wet intervals can cause serious social crises. Modeling results of speleothem δ18O series suggest that future precipitation in central China may be below the average of the past 500 years. As Qinling Mountain is the main recharge area of two large water transfer projects and habitats of many endangered species, it is imperative to explore an adaptive strategy for the decline in precipitation and/or drought events.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: F600 Geology
F700 Ocean Sciences
F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
F900 Others in Physical Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2020 11:04
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2020 11:15
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/42134

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