Domino effect of climate change over two millennia in ancient China’s Hexi Corridor

Feng, Qi and Yan, Linshan and Deo, Ravinesh C. ORCID: and AghaKouchak, Amir and Adamowski, Jan F. and Stone, Roger and Yin, Zhenliang and Liu, Wei and Si, Jianhua and Wen, Xiaohu and Zhu, Meng and Cao, Shixiong (2019) Domino effect of climate change over two millennia in ancient China’s Hexi Corridor. Nature Sustainability, 2. pp. 957-961.


Climate change, population growth and extreme events can trigger social crises and instability. The processes that dominate a society’s emergence, resilience and collapse, and the complex interactions among such processes, operating within a small region, at a multicentury or even larger time scale, remain to be identified. The causes or driving forces responsible for societal changes must be identified for a plausible explanation. Historical records provide unique examples of societies that have failed to develop buffers and strategic resilience against climate change and natural variability. Using a wide range of observations from China’s Hexi Corridor, the complex interactive processes linking climate change with human society over the past two millennia were investigated. This paper proposes a domino effect resulting from a society’s failure to respond to climate change in which individual small problems create a greater challenge over long time spans. Building resilience against the impacts of climate change requires a deep understanding of social and environmental feedbacks to create a reliable buffer against future changes. This study offers lessons learned from the past 2,000 years that remain relevant today, given the projected changes in climate and extreme events.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited 2019
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Sciences (6 Sep 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Applied Climate Sciences (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2019 01:27
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2020 01:30
Uncontrolled Keywords: China; Hexi Corridor; climate change
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
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