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Yangtze Delta floods and droughts of the last millennium: Abrupt changes and long term memory


Climate variability and flood events in the Yangtze Delta, which is a low-lying terrain prone to flood hazards, storm tides and typhoons, are studied in terms of a trend and detrended fluctuation analysis of historical records. The data used in this paper were extracted from historical records such as local annuals and chronologies from 1000–1950 and supplemented by instrumental observations since 1950. The historical data includes frequencies of floods, droughts and maritime events on a decadal basis. Flood magnitudes increase during the transition from the medieval warm interval into the early Little Ice Age. Fluctuating climate changes of the Little Ice Age, which are characterised by arid climate events, are followed by wet and cold climate conditions with frequent flood hazards. For trend analysis, the Mann-Kendall test is applied to determine the changing trends of flood and drought frequency. Flood frequency during 1000–1950 shows a negative trend before 1600 A.D. and a positive trend thereafter; drought frequency increases after 1300. The detrended fluctuation analysis of the flood and drought frequencies reveals power law scaling up to centuries; this is related to long-term memory and is similar to the river Nile floods.

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Jiang, T., Zhang, Q., Blender, R. et al. Yangtze Delta floods and droughts of the last millennium: Abrupt changes and long term memory. Theor. Appl. Climatol. 82, 131–141 (2005).

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  • Historical Record
  • Flood Hazard
  • Flood Frequency
  • Detrended Fluctuation Analysis
  • Drought Frequency