Historical droughts in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) of China

Kuan Hui Elaine Lin*, Pao K. Wang, Pi Ling Pai, Yu Shiuan Lin, Chih Wei Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This study presents a new epistemological analysis of drought chronology through a well-defined methodology for reconstructing past drought series, as well as series of other associated ecological and societal impact variables. Instead of building a grading system based on mixed criteria, this method facilitates transparency in the reconstruction process and enables the statistical examination of all variables when building series. The data for the present study are derived mainly from the REACHES (Reconstructed East Asian Climate Historical Encoded Series) database; however, other archival documentary and index data from independent sources are also applied to understand drought narratives and to cross-check and validate the analysis derived from REACHES. From the time series analysis, six severe drought periods are identified in the Qing dynasty, and then a spatial analysis is performed to demonstrate the spatial distribution of drought and other variables in the six periods, as well as a social network analysis to reveal connections between drought and other ecological and societal variables. Research results clearly illustrate the role of human intervention in influencing the impacts of drought and their societal consequences. Particularly, the correlation between drought and socioeconomic turmoil is not strong; crop failure and famine are important intermediate factors, while ecological factors such as locust and disaster relief measures are all imperative to intervene between crop production and famine. Implications of the study on drought impact are provided, as well as the significance of drought on historical climate reconstruction studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-931
Number of pages21
JournalClimate of the Past
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Stratigraphy
  • Palaeontology


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