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

Tan, Liangcheng and Cai, Yanjun and An, Zhisheng and Cheng, Hai and Shen, Chuan-Chou and Breitenbach, Sebastian F. M. and Gao, Yongli and Edwards, R. Lawrence and 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. p. 12284. ISSN 2045-2322, ESSN: 2045-2322 DOI 10.1038/srep12284

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Official URL: http://www.nature.com/doifinder/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
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2015AREP; IA69;
Subjects: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Divisions: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
07 - Gold Open Access
Journal or Publication Title: Scientific Reports
Volume: 5
Page Range: p. 12284
Identification Number: 10.1038/srep12284
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2015 12:39
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2015 17:29
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/3458

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