Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 193–206 | Cite as

Migration and reclamation in Northeast China in response to climatic disasters in North China over the past 300 years

  • Yu YeEmail author
  • Xiuqi Fang
  • Mohammad Aftab U Khan
Original Article


Climatic disaster-induced migration and its effects on land exploitation of new settlements is a crucial topic that needs to be researched to better understand the impact of climate change and human adaptation. This paper focuses on the process and mechanism of migrant–reclamation in Northeast China in response to climatic disasters over the past 300 years. The research used comparative analysis of key interlinked factors in this response involving drought/flood events, population, cropland area, farmer revolts, administrations establishment, and land reclamation policies. It draws the following conclusions: (1) seven peaks of migrants–reclamation in Northeast China were evident, most likely when frequent climatic disasters happened in North China, such as the drought–flood in 1851–1859, drought in 1875–1877, and drought 1927–1929; (2) six instances of policy transformation adopted to cope with extreme climatic events, including distinctive examples like changing to a firm policy prohibiting migration in 1740 and a subsequent lifting of that prohibition in 1860; and (3) the fast expansion of the northern agricultural boundary since the middle of the nineteenth century in this area benefited from a climate change trend from a cold period into a warm period. Altogether, over the past 300 years, extreme climatic disasters in North China have deepened the contradiction between the limited land resources and the rapidly increasing population and have resulted in migration and reclamation in Northeast China. Climate, policy, and reclamation constructed an organic chain of response that dominated the land use/cover change process of Northeast China.


Extreme climatic event Adaptation Policy response North China Reclamation of Northeast China 



Supported by Grant No. 2010CB950103 under China Global Change Research Program and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 40901099, 41071127).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of GeographyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Graduate Institute of International and Development StudiesGenevaSwitzerland

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