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Reconstruction of the severe drought events of 1875–1879 in Shanxi Province, China, based on rain and snow record data from the Qing Palace Archives

Yanping Qu, Qianfeng Wang, Zhe Li, Rongrong Zhang, Jingyu Zeng, Yanling Song, Xiaojing Yang, Juan Lv*

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Climate change is one of the main reasons for frequent severe droughts in many areas of China. At present, there is a lack of research on the occurrence and impact of large-scale and long-lasting extreme drought events in the historical period. This study utilized the “Yu–Xue–Fen–Cun” (rain and snow record) data from the Qing Palace Archives for the Qing Dynasty and records from modern meteorological stations as data sources, combined with key parameters of the study area obtained by field experiments. The improved Green–Ampt infiltration model converted historical data into precipitation data, and the precipitation anomaly percentage (PA) was calculated as a meteorological drought indicator. The spatial distribution and evolution of historical extreme drought events in Shanxi Province were studied and discussed. The results show a severe shortage of rainfall followed by severe drought events between 1875 and 1879 in Shanxi Province. In 1877, the shortage level reached its peak. Extreme drought events happened from 1875 to 1877 when the whole province was heavily drought-stricken, with PA values of −65%, −64%, and −70%, respectively. Reconstructing extreme historical droughts has an important practical significance in coping with drought catastrophes that may occur now or in the future and contributes to creating disaster prevention and preparedness strategies, disaster reduction policies, and risk prevention and control.