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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-122
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-122
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  28 Sep 2020

28 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

How could phenological records from the Chinese poems of the Tang and Song Dynasties (618–1260 AD) be reliable evidence of past climate changes?

Yachen Liu1, Xiuqi Fang2, Junhu Dai3, Huanjiong Wang3, and Zexing Tao3 Yachen Liu et al.
  • 1School of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Xi’an University, Xi’an, 710065, China
  • 2Faculty of Geographical Science, Key Laboratory of Environment Change and Natural Disaster MOE, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China
  • 3Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of GeographicSciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), Beijing,100101, China

Abstract. Phenological records in historical documents have been proved to be of unique value for reconstructing past climate changes. As a literary genre, poetry reached its peak period in the Tang and Song Dynasties (618–1260 AD) in China, which could provide abundant phenological records in this period when lacking phenological observations. However, the reliability of phenological records from poems as well as their processing methods remains to be comprehensively summarized and discussed. In this paper, after introducing the certainties and uncertainties of phenological information in poems, the key processing steps and methods for deriving phenological records from poems and using them in past climate change studies were discussed: (1) two principles namely the principle of conservative and the principle of personal experience should be followed to reduce the uncertainties; (2) the phenological records in poems need to be filtered according to the types of poems, the background information, the rhetorical devices and the spatial representations; (3) the animals and plants are identified to species level according to their modern distributions and the sequences of different phenophases; (4) the phenophases in poems are identified on the basis of modern observation criterion; (5) the dates and sites for the phenophases in poems are confirmed from background information and related studies. Finally, the temperature anomalies reconstructed by phenological records from poems were compared with those reconstructed by other historical documents in published studies to demonstrate the validity and reliability of phenological records from poems in studies of past climate changes. This paper proved that the phenological records from poems could be useful evidence of past climate changes after being scientifically processed and also provides a reference in both principle and methodology for the extraction and application of phenological records from poems.

Yachen Liu et al.

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Short summary
There are controversies on whether poetry can be used as one of the evidence sources for past climate changes. We tried to discuss the reliability and validity of phenological records from poems of the Tang and Song Dynasties (618–1260 AD) by analyzing their certainties and uncertainties. Then a standardized processing method for phenological records from poems was introduced. We hope that this study could provide a reference for the extraction and application of phenological records from poems.
There are controversies on whether poetry can be used as one of the evidence sources for past...
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