, Volume 23, Issue 7-8, pp 869-881
Date: 04 Nov 2004

Annual precipitation since 515 BC reconstructed from living and fossil juniper growth of northeastern Qinghai Province, China

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Abstract

Annual precipitation for the last 2,500 years was reconstructed for northeastern Qinghai from living and archaeological juniper trees. A dominant feature of the precipitation of this area is a high degree of variability in mean rainfall at annual, decadal, and centennial scales, with many wet and dry periods that are corroborated by other paleoclimatic indicators. Reconstructed values of annual precipitation vary mostly from 100 to 300 mm and thus are no different from the modern instrumental record in Dulan. However, relatively dry years with below-average precipitation occurred more frequently in the past than in the present. Periods of relatively dry years occurred during 74–25 BC, AD 51–375, 426–500, 526–575, 626–700, 1100–1225, 1251–1325, 1451–1525, 1651–1750 and 1801–1825. Periods with a relatively wet climate occurred during AD 376–425, 576–625, 951–1050, 1351–1375, 1551–1600 and the present. This variability is probably related to latitudinal positions of winter frontal storms. Another key feature of precipitation in this area is an apparently direct relationship between interannual variability in rainfall with temperature, whereby increased warming in the future might lead to increased flooding and droughts. Such increased climatic variability might then impact human societies of the area, much as the climate has done for the past 2,500 years.