The research group of Professor Liu Jian from the School of Geography of Nanjing Normal University has made important progress in the simulation of the climate evolution of the Chongzhen drought in the late Ming Dynasty. The result was published in the journal "Geophysical Research Letters" published in August 2020 under the title "One Drought and One Volcanic Eruption influenced the history of China: The Ming Dynasty Mega-drought"; On August 25, Nature magazine selected the paper into Research Highlights and made an introduction of it.
The Chongzhen drought of the Ming Dynasty occurred between 1637-1643 and was one of the worst droughts in Chinese history in the past thousand years. It caused crop failure and economic deterioration in the late Ming Dynasty, and accelerated the demise of the Ming Dynasty and the establishment of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It has a profound influence on China's historical process.
Based on palaeoclimate reconstruction data and model simulation data, this study explored the cause of the Chongzhen drought that lasted for 7 years from the perspective of the interaction between internal variability and external forcing of the volcano. The results show that the Chongzhen drought in the late Ming Dynasty originally originated from the internal variability of the climate system (1637). Later, in 1641, the eruption of the Parker volcano in the Southern Philippine Islands intensified and prolonged the drought. In the reconstructed data, the Chongzhen drought reached its maximum intensity in 1641, which corresponds to the tropical volcanic eruption that year. The results of the Current Earth System Model (CESM) climate simulation experiment over the past millennium and the volcanic sensitivity test have shown that the linear superposition of volcanic eruptions and internal variability can exacerbate drought. The eruption of Parker volcano increases and prolongs drought for 4 years, which is consistent with the reconstruction results.
This research has important scientific value for in-depth understanding of the formation mechanism of the Chongzhen drought, further exploration of the joint influence of internal variability and external forcing on interdecadal drought, and has important guiding meaning for strengthening the risk prediction and disaster management of climate disasters in the future.
The first author of the study is a 2020 PhD student Chen Kefan from our school, the supervisor is Professor Liu Jian, the first corresponding author is Professor Ning Liang from Professor Liu Jian's team, and the second corresponding author is Professor Liu Jian’s team's close collaborator, Professor Liu Zhengyu of the Ohio State University.
Chen, K., L. Ning*, Z. Liu*, Jian Liu et al. 2020. One drought and one volcanic eruption influenced the history of China: the Ming Dynasty Mega-drought. Geophysical Research Letters.
Link to the original text of Geophysical Research Letters:
Nature report link:
(Contributed by the School of Geography, Nanjing Normal University)