Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 321–329 | Cite as

General characteristics of climate changes during the past 2000 years in China

  • QuanSheng Ge
  • JingYun Zheng
  • ZhiXin HaoEmail author
  • HaoLong Liu
Research Paper


The general characteristics of climate changes over the past 2000 years in China, regional differences and uncertainties were analyzed based on the recently peer-reviewed high time-resolution climatic reconstructions. The results showed that there exists four warm periods of the temperature variation in China since the Qin Dynasty, including the western and eastern Han Dynasties (200 BC-AD 180), the Sui and Tang dynasties (541–810), the Song and Yuan dynasties (931–1320), and the 20th century, and three cold phases involving the Wei, Jin, and North-South Dynasties (181–540), the late Tang Dynasty (811–930), and the Ming and Qing dynasties (1321–1920). The Song and Yuan warm period is consistent with the Medieval Warm Period over the Northern Hemisphere, and the cold phases of the North-South Dynasties and the Ming and Qing dynasties are paralleled to the Dark Ages Cold Period and the Little Ice Age, respectively. The 13th-15th century could be a shift to the wet condition of the climate, and the low precipitation variability is exhibited in western China prior to 1500. In the context of the climate warming, the pattern of the drought in north and flood in south is prevalent over the eastern China. In addition, the published reconstructions have a high level of confidence for the past 500 years, but large uncertainties exist prior to the 16th century.


past 2000 years temperature (cold/warm) precipitation (wet/dry) uncertainties 


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • QuanSheng Ge
    • 1
  • JingYun Zheng
    • 1
  • ZhiXin Hao
    • 1
    Email author
  • HaoLong Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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