Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Research article
28 May 2014
Research article |  | 28 May 2014

Modeling of severe persistent droughts over eastern China during the last millennium

Y. Peng, C. Shen, H. Cheng, and Y. Xu

Abstract. We use proxy data and modeled data from 1000 year model simulations with a variety of climate forcings to examine the occurrence of severe event of persistent drought over eastern China during the last millennium and diagnose the mechanisms. Results show that the model was able to roughly simulate most of these droughts over the study area during the last millennium such as those that occurred during the periods of 1123–1152, 1197–1223, 1353–1363, 1428–1449, 1479–1513, and 1632–1645.

Our analyses suggest that these six well-captured droughts may caused by the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) weakening. Study on the wavelet transform and spectral analysis reveals these events occurred all at the statistically significant 15–35-year timescale. A modeled data intercomparison suggests the possibility that solar activity may be the primary driver in the occurrence of the 1129–1144, 1354–1365, 1466–1491 and 1631–1648 droughts as identified by the model. However another possibility that these events may be related to internal variability cannot be excluded. Although the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) plays an important role in monsoon variability, a temporally consistent relationship between the droughts and SST pattern in the Pacific Ocean could not be found either in the modeled or proxy data. Our analyses also indicate that large volcanic eruptions play a role as an amplifier in the drought of 1631–1648 and caused the droughts of 1830–1853 and 1958–1976, which was identified by the model.