1Department of Earth Environmental Science, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China
2Key Laboratory of Plateau Lake Ecology and Global Change, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming, China
3Institute of Global Environmental Change, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China
4Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA
5Laboratory for Climate Studies, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China
Abstract. We use proxy data and modeled data from 1000 yr model simulations with a variety of climate forcings to examine the occurrence of severe events of persistent drought over eastern China during the last millennium and to diagnose the mechanisms. Results show that the model was able to simulate many aspects of the low-frequency (periods greater than 10 yr) variations of precipitation over eastern China during the last millennium, including most of the severe persistent droughts such as those in the 1130s, 1200s, 1350s, 1430s, 1480s, and the late 1630s–mid-1640s. These six droughts are identified both in the proxy data and in the modeled data and are consistent with each other in terms of drought intensity, duration, and spatial coverage.
Our analyses suggest that monsoon circulation can lock into a drought-prone mode that may last for years to decades and supports the suggestion that generally reduced monsoon in eastern Asia were associated with the land–sea thermal contrast. Study on the wavelet transform and spectral analysis reveals six well-captured events occurred all at the drought stages of statistically significant 15–35 yr timescale. A modeled data intercomparison suggests that solar activity is the primary driver in the occurrence of the 1130s, 1350s, 1480s, and late 1630s–mid-1640s droughts. Although the El-Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) plays an important role in monsoon variability, a temporally consistent relationship between the droughts and SST pattern in the Pacific Ocean could not be found in the model. Our analyses also indicate that large volcanic eruptions play a role as an amplifier in the drought of 1635–1645 and caused the model to overestimate the decreasing trends in summer precipitation over eastern China during the mid-1830s and the mid-1960s.