CR 39:131-147 (2009)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr00816

Temperature, aridity thresholds, and population growth dynamics in China over the last millennium

Harry F. Lee*, David D. Zhang, Lincoln Fok

Department of Geography, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, SAR

ABSTRACT: The relationship between climate and population has long been discussed, but rarely has it been quantitatively measured. Hence, the relationship remains ambiguous. In the present study, we employ fine-grained temperature, aridity threshold, and population data, together with logistic models and spatial statistics, to quantitatively explore how far climate change affected population growth dynamics in China from 1000 to 1979. Statistical results confirm that cold climate was associated with below average population growth, mediated by regional geographic contexts. In addition, cold climate triggered a southward shift of populations. In short, the climate–population relationship was evident in historical China, and temperature was more influential than the aridity threshold in explaining the fluctuation of population size and shifts in population distribution. The strong influence of temperature change on northward and southward population shifts and the weak influence of the change in the aridity threshold on population growth dynamics are further discussed. The observed temperature–population relationship may give some indication of future demographic effects from climate warming.


KEY WORDS: Climate change · Temperature · Aridity threshold · Population dynamics · Land carrying capacity · China


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Cite this article as: Lee HF, Zhang DD, Fok L (2009) Temperature, aridity thresholds, and population growth dynamics in China over the last millennium. Clim Res 39:131-147. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr00816

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