Climatic Change

, Volume 110, Issue 1–2, pp 373–383 | Cite as

Droughts near the northern fringe of the East Asian summer monsoon in China during 1470–2003

  • Weihong QianEmail author
  • Xiaolong Shan
  • Deliang Chen
  • Congwen Zhu
  • Yafen Zhu


Historical annual dry–wet index for 1470–2003 combined with instrumental precipitation since 1951 were used to identify extremely dry years and events near the northern fringe of the East Asian summer monsoon in China—the Great Bend of the Yellow River (GBYR) region. In total, 49 drought years, of which 26 were severe, were identified. Composites of the dry–wet index under the drought years show an opposite wet pattern over the Southeast China. The longest drought event lasted for 6 years (1528–1533), the second longest one 4 years (1637–1640). The most severe 2-year-long drought occurred in 1928–1929, and the two driest single years were 1900 and 1965. These persistent and extreme drought events caused severe famines and huge losses of human lives. Wavelet transform applied to the dry–wet index indicates that the severe drought years are nested in several significant dry–wet variations across multiple timescales, i.e., the 65–85 year timescale during 1600– 1800, 40–55 year timescale before 1640 and 20–35 year timescale mainly from 1550 to 1640. These timescales of dry–wet variations are discussed in relation to those forcing such as cycles of solar radiation, oscillation in the thermohaline circulation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Comparing 850 hPa winds in Asia in extremely dry and wet years, it was concluded that dry–wet variability in the GBYR region strongly depends upon whether the southerly monsoon flow can reach northern China.


Summer Monsoon Pacific Decadal Oscillation East Asian Summer Monsoon Drought Event Yangtze River Basin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Weihong Qian
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
    Email author
  • Xiaolong Shan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Deliang Chen
    • 3
  • Congwen Zhu
    • 4
  • Yafen Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Monsoon and Environment Research Group, School of PhysicsPeking UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Laboratory for Climate and Ocean-Atmosphere StudiesPeking UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of GothenborgGothenborgSweden
  4. 4.Institute of Climate SystemChinese Academy of Meteorological SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesPeking UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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