Assessment on Climate Change in China for the Last 2000 Years

  • 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Department of Atomospheric Science, School of Physics, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

Received date: 2004-08-07

  Revised date: 2004-10-12

  Online published: 2005-01-25

Supported by

Knowledge Innovation Project (KZCX3-SW-321); Joint Project of "Assessment on Climatic and Environmental Change in China" from MOST, CAS and CMA


The climate change in China was assessed synthetically for the last 2000 years, based on reviewing climatic change research literature published in the last 20 years. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) In the 20th century, a warming trend was clearly detected, but for eastern China the fluctuation magnitude was less than the maximum level, which occurred in the last 2000 years. (2) Precipitation showed the inter-centennial tendency having obvious spatial difference, especially in North China and south of the Yangze River, is opposite to the low frequency change trend. With respect to the entire change trend, before 280 AD, the climate was relatively wet but afterwards the climate gradually became dry. Furthermore, after 1230 AD, the climate was in the stabilized state of dryness. (3) The temperature change tendency in eastern China is consistent with western China but there were obvious differences in the magnitude and timing of the cold/warm epoch. (4) During the Medieval Warm Period, the climate was relatively dry in North China, while it was relatively wet in the south of the Yangtze River. In addition, the climate was relatively wet during the Little Ice Age in North China and the precipitation variation became greater in eastern China.

Cite this article

ZHENG Jingyun, WANG Shaowu . Assessment on Climate Change in China for the Last 2000 Years[J]. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2005 , 60(1) : 21 -31 . DOI: 10.11821/xb200501003


[1] Eddy J A. Past Global Changes Project: Proposed Implementation Plans for Research Activities. Global Change Report No.19, Sweden, Stockholm: IGBP, 1992. 1-112.

[2] IPCC. Climate Change: The IPPC Scientific Assessment. Houghton J T, Jenkins G J, Ephraums J J (eds.), Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990. 1-365.

[3] IPCC. Climate Change 1992: The Suppliementary Report to the IPCC Scientific Assessment. Houghton J T, Callander B A, Varney S K (eds.), Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992. 1-198.

[4] IPCC. Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group I to the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Houghton J T, Meira Filho L G, Callander B A et al. (eds.), Cambridge, UK and New York, USA: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 1-572.

[5] IPCC. Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Houghton J T, Ding Y, Griggs D J et al. (eds.). Cambridge, UK and New York, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 1-881.

[6] State Committee of Science and Technology. Blue book on Science and Technology (Vol.5): Climate. Beijing: Scientific and Technical Documents Publishing House, 1990. 128-158.
[国家科学技术委员会. 中国科学技术蓝皮书第五号— 气候. 北京: 科学技术文献出版社, 1990. 128-158.]

[7] Ye Duzheng, Zeng Qingcun, Guo Yufu (eds.). Current Research in Climate. Beijing: China Meteorological Press, 1991. 186-261.
[叶笃正, 曾庆存, 郭裕福 主编. 当代气候研究. 北京: 气象出版社, 1991. 186-261.]

[8] Zhang Jiacheng (ed). Climate in China: The Pandect. Beijing: China Meteorological Press, 1991. 306-342.
[张家诚 主编. 中国气候总论. 北京: 气象出版社, 1991. 306-342.]

[9] Zhang Piyuan (ed.). Climate Change in China during Historical Times. Jinan: Shandong Science and Technology Press, 1996. 195-440.
[张丕远 主编. 中国历史气候变化. 济南: 山东科学技术出版社, 1996. 195-440.]

[10] Wang Shaowu (ed.). Progress of Research on Climatology. Beijing: China Meteorological Press, 2001. 96-158.
[王绍武 主编. 现代气候学研究进展. 北京: 气象出版社, 2001. 96-158.]

[11] Wang Shaowu, Dong Guangrong (eds.). Environmental Characteristics and Changes in Western China. Beijing: Science Press, 2002. 43-53.
[王绍武, 董光荣 主编. 中国西部环境特征及其演变. 北京: 科学出版社, 2002. 43-53.]

[12] Zhu Kezhen. Primary research on climate changes in recent 5000 years of China. Scientia Sinica, 1973, (2): 168-189.
[竺可桢. 中国近五千年来气候变迁的初步研究. 中国科学, 1973, (2): 168-189.]

[13] Zhang De'er. Winter temperature changes during the last 500 years in South China. Kexue Tongbao (Chinese Science Bulletin), 1980, 25(6): 497-500.
[张德二. 近500年来我国南部冬温状况的初步探讨. 科学通报, 1980, (6): 270-272.]

[14] Wang Shaowu. Reconstruction of temperature series of North China from 1380s to 1980s. Scientia Sinica (Ser. B), 1991, (6): 751-759.
[王绍武. 公元1380年以来我国华北气温序列的重建. 中国科学 (B辑), 1990, (5): 553-560.]

[15] Wang Shaowu, Wang Risheng. Variations of seasonal and annual temperatures during 1470-1978AD in eastern China. Acta Meteorologica Sinica, 1990, 48(1), 26-35.
[王绍武, 王日昇. 1470年以来我国华东四季与年平均温度变化的研究. 气象学报, 1990, 48(1): 26-35.]

[16] Zheng Jingyun, Zheng Sizhong. An analysis on cold/warm and dry/wet in Shandong Province during historical times. Acta Geographica Sinica, 1993, 48(4): 348-357.
[郑景云, 郑斯中. 山东历史时期冷暖旱涝状况分析. 地理学报, 1993, 48(4): 348-357.]

[17] Man Zhimin, Zhang Xiugui. Research on the documental evidence and the characteristics of MWP in the east part of China. In: Zhang Lansheng (ed.), Research on the past life-supporting environment change of China (I). Beijing: China Ocean Press. 1993. 95-103.
[满志敏, 张修桂. 中国东部中世纪温暖期的历史证据和基本特征的初步研究. 见: 张兰生 主编, 中国生存环境历史演变规律研究 (一). 北京: 海洋出版社, 1993. 95-103.]

[18] Wang Shaowu, Ye Jinlin, Gong Daoyi. Climate in China during Little Ice Age. Quaternary Sciences, 1998, (1): 54-64.
[王绍武, 叶瑾琳, 龚道溢. 中国小冰期的气候. 第四纪研究, 1998, (1): 54-64.]

[19] Wang Shaowu, Gong Daoyi. Climate in China during the four special periods in Holocene. Progress in Natural Science, 2000, 10(5): 379-386.
[王绍武, 龚道溢. 全新世几个特征时期的中国气温. 自然科学进展, 2000, 10(4): 325-332.]

[20] Yang Bao, Braeuning A, Johnson K R, et al. General characteristics of temperature variation in China during the last two millennia. Geophysical Research Letters, 2002, 29(9): 381-384.

[21] Tan Ming, Liu Tungsheng. Cyclic rapid warming on centennial-scale revealed by a 2650-year stalagmite record of warm season temperature. Geophysical Research Letters, 2003, 30(20): 1617. doi: 10.1029/ 2003GL017352.

[22] Ge Quansheng, Zheng Jingyun, Fang Xiuqi, et al. Temperature changes of winter-half-year in eastern China during the past 2000 years. The Holocene, 2003, 13(6): 933-940.

[23] Zheng Jingyun, Ge Quansheng, Fang Xiuqi. Seeing the 20th century warming from temperature changes of winter-harlf-year in eastern China for the last 2000 years. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2002, 57(6): 631-638.
[郑景云, 葛全胜, 方修琦. 从中国过去2000年温度变化看20世纪增暖. 地理学报, 2002, 57(6): 631-638.]

[24] Academy of Meteorological Science of China Central Meteorological Administration. Yearly Charts of Dryness/Wetness in China for the Last 500-year Period. Beijing: Cartographic Publishing House, 1981. 1-332.
[中央气象局气象科学研究院. 中国近500年旱涝分布图集. 北京: 地图出版社, 1981. 1-332.]

[25] Zhang De'er. Paleoenvironmental records from Chieses historical documents. Advance in Earth Sciences, 1998, 13(3): 273-277.
[张德二. 中国历史文献档案中的古环境记录. 地球科学进展, 1998, 13(3): 273-277.]

[26] Zhang De'er, Liu Chuanzhi, Jiang Jianmin. Reconstruction of six regional dry/wet series and their abrupt changes during the last 1000 years in east China. Quaternary Sciences, 1997, (1): 1-11.
[张德二, 刘传志, 江剑明. 中国东部6区域近1000年干湿序列的重建和气候跃变分析. 第四纪研究, 1997, (1): 1-11.]

[27] Zhang De'er, Wang Lihua, Sun Xia. Reconstruction of grid precipitation anomaly in eastern China from historical documents: New study on Chinese historical climate records. Quaternary Sciences, 2003, 23(2): 177-184.
[张德二, 王丽华, 孙霞. 由历史文献记载反演逐年网格点降水量距平场. 第四纪研究, 2003, 23(2): 177-184.]

[28] Zhang Jiacheng (ed.). Reconstruction of Climate in China for Historical Times. Beijing: Science Press, 1998.. 1-174.

[29] Wang Shaowu, Zhao Zongci. An analysis of historical data of droughts and floods in the last 500 years in China. Acta Geographica Sinica, 1979, 34(4): 329-341.
[王绍武, 赵宗慈. 近500年我国旱涝史料的分析. 地理学报, 1979, 34(4): 329-341.]

[30] Wang Shaowu, Zhao Zongci, Chen Zhenhua. Drought/flood type in China for 950~1991 AD. In: Wang Shaowu, Huang Chaoying (eds.), Drought/flood Disasters in Changjiang and Huanghe River Region and Its Impact on the Economy. Beijing: China Meteorological Press, 1993. 55-66.
[王绍武, 赵宗慈, 陈振华. 公元950年~1991年的旱涝型. 见: 王绍武, 黄朝迎 著, 长江黄河旱涝灾害发生规律及其经济影响的诊断研究. 北京: 气象出版社, 1993. 55-66.]

[31] Zhang Piyuan, Wang Zheng. The stages of climate change in recent 2000 years. Science in China (Ser. B), 1994, 24(9): 998-1008.
[张丕远, 王铮. 中国近2000年来气候演化的阶段性. 中国科学 (B辑), 1994, 24(9): 998-1008.]

[32] Zheng Jingyun, Zhang Piyuan, Ge Quansheng et al. Centennial changes of drought/flood spatial pattern in eastern China for the last 2000 years. Progress in Natural Science, 2001, 11(4): 280-287.
[郑景云, 张丕远, 葛全胜等. 过去2000a中国东部干湿分异的百年际变化. 自然科学进展, 2001, 11(1): 65-70.]

[33] Zhang De'er, Liu Yuewei. A new approach to the reconstruction of temporal rainfall sequences from 1724-1904 Qing Dynasty weather records from Beijing. Quaternary Sciences, 2002, 22(3): 199-208.
[张德二, 刘月巍. 北京清代"晴雨录"降水记录的再研究. 第四纪研究, 2002, 22(3): 199-208.]

[34] Wang P K, Zhang D. Reconstruction of the 18th century summer precipitation of Nanjing, Suzhou, and Hangzhou, China. In: Bradley R S, Jones P D (eds.), Climate Since AD1500. London & New York: Routledge, 1992. 184-209.

[35] Zhang De'er, Wang P K. A study on the reconstruction of the 18th century meiyu (plum rains) activity of Lower Changjiang (Yangtze) region of China. Science in China (Ser. B), 1991, 34(11): 1237-1245.
[张德二, 王宝贯. 1990. 18世纪长江下游梅雨活动的复原研究. 中国科学(B辑), 1990, (12): 1333-1339.]

[36] Zheng Jingyun, Hao Zhixin, Ge Quansheng. Seasonal precipitation reconstruction and analysis in Shandong Province derived from the archives in the Qing Dynasty since 1736. Climatic and Environmental Research, 2005, 10(1): 41-50.
[郑景云, 郝志新, 葛全胜. 山东1736年来逐季降水重建及其初步分析. 气候与环境研究, 2005, 10(1): 41-50.]

[37] Zhu Jinhong, Wang Shaowu. 80a-oscillation of summer rainfall over the east part of China and East-Asian summer monsoon. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, 2001, 18(5): 1043-1051.

[38] Wang Shaowu, Zhao Zongci. The 36-years wetness oscillation in China and its mechanism. Acta Meteorologica Sinica, 1979, 37(1): 64-73.
[王绍武, 赵宗慈. 我国旱涝36年周期及其产生机制. 气象学报, 1979, 37(1): 64-73.]

[39] Shi Ning. The tendency of drought/flood for 500 years and more and the variance features of late years in Ning-Su- Yang area. Scientia Meteorologica Sinica, 1998, 18(1): 28-34.
[施宁. 宁苏扬地区500多年来的旱涝趋势及近期的演变特征. 气象科学, 1998, 18(1): 28-34.]

[40] Hao Zhixin, Zheng Jingyun, Ge Quansheng. Climate change and harvest in Xi'an since 1736: the high-resolution data derived from the archives in the Qing Dynasty. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2003, 58(5): 735-742.
[郝志新, 郑景云, 葛全胜. 1736年以来西安气候变化与农业收成的相关分析. 地理学报, 2003, 58(5):735-742.]

[41] Liu Hongbin, Shao Xuemei, Huang Lei. Reconstruction of early-summer drought indices in mid north region of China after 1500 using tree ring chronologies. Quaternary Sciences, 2002, 22(3): 220-229.
[刘洪滨, 邵雪梅, 黄磊. 中国陕西关中及周边地区近500 年来初夏干燥指数序列的重建. 第四纪研究, 2002, 22(3): 220-229.]

[42] Ge Quansheng, Fang Xiuqi, Zheng Jingyun. Quasi-periodicity of temperature changes on the millennial scale. Progress in Natural Science, 2003, 13(8): 601-606.
[葛全胜, 方修琦, 郑景云. 千年尺度上冷暖变化的自相似特征研究. 自然科学进展, 2002, 12(12): 1280-1284.]

[43] Liu Xiaohong. Temperature variations recorded in tree-rings of middle Qilian Mountains during the last millennium. Science in China ( Ser. D), 2004, 34(1): 89-95.
[刘晓宏. 祁连山中部过去近千年温度变化的树轮记录. 中国科学 (D辑), 2004, 34(1): 89-95.]

[44] Shi Yafeng. Decadal climatic variations recorded in Guliya ice core and comparison with historical documentary data from East China during the last 2000 years. Science in China (Ser. D), 1999, 29(supp. 1): 79-86.
[施雅风. 近2000年古里雅冰芯10a尺度的气候变化及其中国东部文献记录的比较. 中国科学 (D辑), 1999, 29(增刊1): 79-86.]

[45] Shao Xuemei, Huang Lei, Liu Hongbin et al. Reconstruction of precipitation variation from tree rings in recent 1000-years in Delingha, Qinghai. Science in China (Ser. D), 2004, 34(2): 145-153.
[邵雪梅, 黄磊, 刘洪滨等.树轮记录的青海德令哈地区千年降水变化. 中国科学 (D辑), 2004, 34(2): 145-153.]

[46] Wang Shaowu, Cai Jingning. Climate change of annual precipitation in western China. Journal of Natural Resources, 2002, 17(4): 415-422.
[王绍武, 蔡静宁. 中国西部降水量的气候变化. 自然资源学报, 2002, 17(4): 415-422.]

[47] Shi Yafeng, Shen Yongping, Li Dongliang et al. Discussion on the present climate change from warm-dry to warm-wet in northwest China. Quaternary Sciences, 2003, 23(2): 152-154.
[施雅风, 沈永平, 李栋梁 等. 中国西北气候由暖干向暖湿转型的特征和趋势探讨. 第四纪研究, 2003, 23(2): 152-154.]

[48] Mann M E. Medieval Climatic Optimum. In: MacCracken M C, Perry J S (eds.), Encyclopedia of Global Environment (Vol.1), The Earth System. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2002. 514-516.

[49] Mann M E. Little Ice Age. In: MacCracken M C, Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change (Vol.1), The Earth System. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2002. 504-509.

[50] Zhang De'er. A study on the medieval warm period in China. Quaternary Sciences, 1993 (1): 7-15.
[张德二. 我国中世纪温暖期气候的初步研究. 第四纪研究, 1993 (1): 7-15.]

[51] Zheng Sizhong. Historical evidence on climatic instability above normal in cool periods in China. Science in China (Ser. B), 1986,29(4):441-448.
[郑斯中.我国冷的时期气候超常不稳定的历史证据. 中国科学 (B辑),1985,(11): 1038-1044.]

[52] Liu Jian, Chen Xing, Wang Sumin et al. Palaeoclimate simulation of Little Ice Age. Progress in Natural Science, 2004, 14(8): 716-724.
[刘健, 陈星, 王苏民等. 小冰期气候的模拟. 自然科学进展, 2004, 14(4): 462-468.]

[53] Jones P D, Briffa K R, Barnett T P et al. High-resolution palaeoclimate records for the last millennium: interpretation, integration and comparison with General Circulation Model control-run temperatures. The Holocene, 1998, 8: 455-471.

[54] Mann M E, Bradley R S, Hughes M K. Northern Hemisphere temperature during the past millennium: inferences, uncertainties, and limitations. Geophysical Research Letters, 1999, 26(6): 759-762.

[55] Crowley T J, Lowery T S. How warm was the Medieval Warm Period? AMBIO, 2000, 29(1): 51-54.

[56] Briffa K R. Annual climate variability in the Holocene. Quaternary Science Reviews, 2000, 19: 87-106.