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Q.-S. Ge, J.-Y. Zheng, Z.-X. Hao, P.-Y. Zhang, and W.-C. Wang

Chinese historical documents that contain descriptions of weather conditions can be used for studying climate of the past hundreds or even thousands of years.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.

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Hao He, Hailong Wang, Zhaoyong Guan, Haishan Chen, Qiang Fu, Muyin Wang, Xiquan Dong, Chunguang Cui, Likun Wang, Bin Wang, Gang Chen, Zhanqing Li, and Da-Lin Zhang
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Jianping Huang, Qiang Fu, Wu Zhang, Xin Wang, Rudong Zhang, Hao Ye, and Stephen G. Warren


Snow is the most reflective natural surface on Earth. Its albedo (the fraction of sunlight reflected) can be reduced by small amounts of dark impurities such as dust and black carbon (BC) particles. This effect is significant for climate and the hydrological cycle. BC has previously been measured in Arctic snow, but it now appears that the larger effect may be in the midlatitudes because snow at lower latitudes is exposed to more sunlight and is closer to the sources of BC.

A field campaign was conducted across northern China in January and February 2010. Snow samples were collected at 46 sites in six provinces. The absorbing impurities are principally dust and BC particles in northwestern and northeastern China, respectively. The estimated concentration of BC is only 30–50 ppb in the far north of Heilongjiang Province (51°N), which is not much more than that found along the coast of the Arctic Ocean, 2,000 km farther north, but it increases to several hundred parts per billion in heavily industrialized Liaoning Province, Jilin Province, and the southern part of Heilongjiang. The BC content of snow in northeast China is comparable to values found in Europe (20–800 ppb). The steep drop-off in BC content of snow with latitude may indicate that little BC emitted in China in the winter is exported northward to the Arctic.

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