1876–1878 severe drought in North China: Facts, impacts and climatic background


Based on the reconstructed precipitation series in North China from historical documents, the 1876–1878 drought was identified as the most severe and extreme one in North China over the past 300 years. Meanwhile, the spatial patterns of seasonal and annual precipitation during 1876–1877 were analyzed and the social and economic impacts related with this drought event were evaluated according to the descriptions in the historical documents. The results indicated that this long-lasting drought started by the spring of 1876 and did not stop until the spring of 1878. Within the three years, the harvest failures brought the rice price increased to 5–10 times than that in the normal year, and the total population in the five provinces over North China decreased by more than 20 million due to a large number of dead people and migrations. In addition, related investigations suggested that the 1876–1878 drought was prevalent worldwide, which has possible link with abnormal high SST in the equatorial central and eastern Pacific, strong El Niño episode and positive AAO anomalies.

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Correspondence to QuanSheng Ge.

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Hao, Z., Zheng, J., Wu, G. et al. 1876–1878 severe drought in North China: Facts, impacts and climatic background. Chin. Sci. Bull. 55, 3001–3007 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11434-010-3243-z

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  • 1876–1878
  • severe drought
  • North China
  • social impact
  • climatic background