Reconstruction of Historical Climate in China: High-Resolution Precipitation Data from Qing Dynasty Archives

Q.-S. Ge
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J.-Y. Zheng
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Z.-X. Hao
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P.-Y. Zhang
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W.-C. Wang
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Chinese historical documents that contain descriptions of weather conditions can be used for studying climate of the past hundreds or even thousands of years. In this study, the progress of reconstructing a 273-station quantitative precipitation dataset for 1736–1911—a period when records of the depth of rain infiltration (into the ground) and snow depth (above the surface) were kept in the Yu–Xue–Fen–Cun (which is part of memos routinely sent to the emperors during the Qing Dynasty) is reported. To facilitate the rainfall reconstruction, a field program of 29 sites covering different climate regimes and soil characteristics was designed for the purpose of establishing the transfer function between the rain infiltration depth and rainfall amount, while the relation between the snow depth and snowfall is obtained using instrumental measurements of recent decades. The results of the first site at Shijiazhuang (near Beijing) are reported here. The reconstruction shows that the summer and winter precipitation during 1736–1911 were generally greater than their respective 1961–90 means. Two years with extreme summer precipitation are identified—112 mm in 1792 and 1167 mm in 1801; the latter is larger than the 998 mm in 1996, which has been the most severe one of recent decades. The long-term high-resolution quantitative data can be used to study climate variability as well as to evaluate historical climate model simulations.

Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, and Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, The University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, The University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Wei-Chyung Wang, Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, State University of New York, 251 Fuller Road, Albany, NY 12203, E-mail: wang@climate.cestm.albany.edu

Chinese historical documents that contain descriptions of weather conditions can be used for studying climate of the past hundreds or even thousands of years. In this study, the progress of reconstructing a 273-station quantitative precipitation dataset for 1736–1911—a period when records of the depth of rain infiltration (into the ground) and snow depth (above the surface) were kept in the Yu–Xue–Fen–Cun (which is part of memos routinely sent to the emperors during the Qing Dynasty) is reported. To facilitate the rainfall reconstruction, a field program of 29 sites covering different climate regimes and soil characteristics was designed for the purpose of establishing the transfer function between the rain infiltration depth and rainfall amount, while the relation between the snow depth and snowfall is obtained using instrumental measurements of recent decades. The results of the first site at Shijiazhuang (near Beijing) are reported here. The reconstruction shows that the summer and winter precipitation during 1736–1911 were generally greater than their respective 1961–90 means. Two years with extreme summer precipitation are identified—112 mm in 1792 and 1167 mm in 1801; the latter is larger than the 998 mm in 1996, which has been the most severe one of recent decades. The long-term high-resolution quantitative data can be used to study climate variability as well as to evaluate historical climate model simulations.

Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, and Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, The University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, The University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Wei-Chyung Wang, Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, State University of New York, 251 Fuller Road, Albany, NY 12203, E-mail: wang@climate.cestm.albany.edu
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