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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 03 Sep 2019

Submitted as: research article | 03 Sep 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Reassessing long-term drought risk and societal impacts in Shenyang, Liaoning province, Northeast China (CE 1200–2015)

LingYun Tang1, Neil Macdonald1, Heather Sangster1, Richard Chiverrell1, and Rachel Gaulton2 LingYun Tang et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, School of Environmental Planning, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3BX, UK
  • 2School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK

Abstract. The occurrence of two severe droughts in Northeastern China since CE 2000 has raised attention in the risk presented by droughts. This paper presents a historic drought series for Shenyang in the Liaoning province, NE China since CE 1200 to present, with a reconstructed long precipitation series (1906–2015), augmented with historical documentary accounts. Analysis of the instrumental series using a standardised precipitation index (SPI) and extending it using historical records has produced a combined series spanning over eight centuries. The combined long series was analysed for patterns in drought frequency, severity and typology. Three droughts comparable to those since CE 2000 occur in the instrumental series during early twentieth century (e.g. 1907, 1916–18 and 1920–21), and coeval archival sources reveal the human impacts of these severe droughts. The archival sources demonstrate how reduced vulnerability resulting from societal and cultural changes in the early twentieth century helped prevent the loss of life experienced during comparable severe droughts at the end of the nineteenth century (1887 and 1891). Incorporating a longer temporal perspective to drought analysis shows that onset is often earlier than is documented explicitly within the archives, and so combined SPI series for a region could provide an early warning of drought development expressed as a water deficit in the previous year. Analysis of archival data provides a rich historical description of impacts and societal responses to severe drought. The archives provide a rich historical description of drought impacts and responses at the personal and community level, whilst also detailing the different roles played by communities, state and international organisations in responding to events.

LingYun Tang et al.
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LingYun Tang et al.
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Short summary
Historical drought series (since CE 1200) for Shenyang, NE China, shows early 20th century droughts comparable in magnitude to recent severe droughts. Drought resilience driven by early 20th century societal/cultural changes reduced loss of life compared with the 1887 and 1891 droughts. Longer temporal analysis from integrated precipitation and historical records show an earlier onset to droughts. Regional Standardised Precipitation Indices could provide early warnings for drought development.
Historical drought series (since CE 1200) for Shenyang, NE China, shows early 20th century...