General characteristics of temperature change and centennial warm periods during the past 2000 years

  • 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. School of Geography, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China;
    3. Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China;
    4. School of Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China;
    5. Institute of Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China

Received date: 2013-01-31

  Revised date: 2013-03-28

  Online published: 2013-05-20

Supported by

China Global Change Research Program, No.2010CB950100; The "Strategic Priority Research Program" of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. XDA05080100; Basic Research Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology, No.2011FY120300


The characteristics of warm/cold fluctuation for Northern Hemisphere (NH) and China during the past 2000 years were analyzed using the proxy-based temperature change series published recently. The duration of centennial warm periods before the 20th century and the difference between the warmth of the 20th century and the centennial warm periods that occurred prior to the 20th century were also investigated. The conclusions are summarized as follows: (1) Most of proxy-based NH temperature series show that the warm climate occurred in the periods of AD 1-270, 841-1290 and 1911-2000. In general, it was cool with multi-decadal temperature fluctuations from 271 to 840, and cold from 1291 to 1910. These centennial periods of warm/cold fluctuation over NH are corresponding to the Roman Warm Period (the 1st century BC to the mid-4th century AD), Dark Age Cold Period (the end of 4th century to the early of 10th century AD), Medieval Warm Period (the mid-10th century to the end of 13th century AD), Little Ice Age (the 15th to 19th century) and Warming Period in the 20th century illustrated by Lamb respectively. But they have different durations between the NH centennial warm/cold periods and those Warm/Cold Periods identified by Lamb. (2) The duration and amplitude of regional centennial phases of warm/cold fluctuation are different in China, but the timing of centennial periods of warm/cold over whole China, i.e. warm in AD 1-200, 551-760, 941-1300, 1901-2000 and cold in the others, which are consistent with that observed in NH approximately. (3) Most of proxy-based NH temperature change series show that the warmth in Medieval Warm Period is at least comparable to that during the Warming Period in the 20th century. The warmest 100-year and 30-year (i.e., warm peak duration) for whole China occurred in the periods of 941-1300 during the past 2000 years, which are slightly higher than in the 20th century respectively. Moreover, the temperature anomalies in the warmest 100-year and 30-year for whole China that occurred in the periods of 571-760 and 1-200 are comparable to and a little lower in the 20th century respectively.

Cite this article

GE Quansheng, LIU Jian, FANG Xiuqi, YANG Bao, HAO Zhixin, SHAO Xuemei, ZHENG Jingyun . General characteristics of temperature change and centennial warm periods during the past 2000 years[J]. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2013 , 68(5) : 579 -592 . DOI: 10.11821/xb201305001


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