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A Multiproxy Reconstruction of Precipitation Variability of China for the Last Two Millennia

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A Multiproxy Reconstruction of Precipitation Variability of China for the Last Two Millennia



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A Multiproxy Reconstruction of Precipitation Variability of China for the Last Two Millennia by Zhen Yuan
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This dissertation, "A Multiproxy Reconstruction of Precipitation Variability of China for the Last Two Millennia" by Zhen, Yuan, 袁蓁, was obtained from The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) and is being sold pursuant to Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License. The content of this dissertation has not been altered in any way. We have altered the formatting in order to facilitate the ease of printing and reading of the dissertation. All rights not granted by the above license are retained by the author. Abstract: Palaeoclimate reconstruction is of paramount importance because the more we know about the patterns of past variability the better we understand the present climate. Precipitation is a key climate variable shaping the culture and economy of China. However, few studies are concerned with past changes in precipitation. The existing few are either reconstructed by one reconstruction approach or based on a single proxy, limiting reconstructions to a small region and a short period of time. The study presents the first high-resolution multi-proxy palaeoprecipitation reconstruction of China as a whole. Proxies used in the study are of annual-to-decadal resolution, mainly including historical written evidence, tree-ring chronologies and stable isotopic records. In accordance with the principle of "uniformity in the nature," about 80 proxy series extend the precipitation records as far back in time as 2,000 years ago when there was a significant increase in natural proxy and documentary records of climate all over China. The top three popular reconstruction approaches are borrowed from multi-proxy temperature reconstructions to reconstruct the palaeoprecipitation. A pioneering attempt is taken to evaluate and compare these approaches in reconstructing precipitation over a long term in a large scale. The three common practices are respectively simple average, composite-plus-scale method, and covariance-based climate field reconstruction. All three reconstruction methods are modified catering to the unique characteristics of precipitation, especially in terms of its large spatial variance. Local reconstructions are carried out first before a national index in reconstructed. Though based on the same documentary and natural proxies, three reconstruction approaches adopt different rationales to decipher the precipitation variability, represented by different statistical models. Each model is assessed by conventional statistics and cross-compared. These models are found complementary to each other while the common shared among three models are considered the closest to the true precipitation condition. Though geographically biased to Eastern China, historical documents still capture the most inter-annual to multi-centennial variations in palaeoprecipitation, indicating the possible control of Asian Monsoon climate on China's overall precipitation. Tree-ring widths preform worst due in part to the attribute of strong locality. Each reconstruction approach turns out to have its own strength and weakness. Three major falls at multi-centennial timescale are detected in most reconstructed precipitation series, which are at AD600-800, AD1000-1300 and AD1500-1700. Spectral analyses demonstrate a rhythmic pattern of around 400-500 years for all reconstructions. When the proxies are not extrapolated, an additional cycle of 700-800 years is significant in precipitation variability over the past 2,000 years. A cross-comparison with European reconstructions show a high agreement in precipitation variability for the past two millennia, leading to the suspect of dry Medieval Warm Period and wet Little Ice Age over the whole Eurasia. DOI: 10.5353/th_b4985889 Subjects: Precipitation variability - China
Release date NZ
January 26th, 2017
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Country of Publication
United States
colour illustrations
Open Dissertation Press
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