Causality of climate, food production and conflict over the last two millennia in the Hexi Corridor, China

Yang, Linshan and Feng, Qi and Adamowski, Jan F. and Deo, Ravinesh C. ORCID: and Yin, Zhenlaing and Wen, Xiaohu and Tang, Xia and Wu, Min (2020) Causality of climate, food production and conflict over the last two millennia in the Hexi Corridor, China. Science of the Total Environment, 713:136587. pp. 1-11. ISSN 0048-9697


The relationship between climate and human society has frequently been investigated to ascertain whether climate variability can trigger social crises (e.g., migration and armed conflicts). In the current study, statistical methods (e.g., correlation analysis and Granger Causality Analysis) are used in a systematic analysis of the potential causality of climate variability on migration and armed conflicts. Specifically, the statistical methods are applied to determine the relationships between long-term fine-grained temperature and precipitation data and contemporary social conditions, gleaned from historical documents covering the last two millennia in China's Hexi Corridor. Results found the region's reconstructed temperature to be strongly coupled with precipitation dynamics, i.e., a warming climate was associated with a greater supply of moisture, whereas a cooling period was associated with more frequent drought. A prolonged cold period tended to coincide with societal instability, such as a shift from unification towards fragmentation. In contrast, a prolonged warm period coincided with rapid development, i.e., a shift from separation to unification. The statistical significance of the causality linkages between climate variability, bio-productivity, grain yield, migration and conflict suggests that climate variability is not the direct causative agent of these phenomena, but that climate reduced food production which gradually lead to migration and conflicts. A conceptual causal model developed through this study describes the causative pathway of climate variability impacts on migration and conflicts in the Hexi Corridor. Applied to current conditions, the model suggests that steady and proactive promotion of the nation's economic buffering capacity might best address the uncertainty brought on by a range of potential future climate scenarios and their potential impacts.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
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 (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2020 06:17
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2021 04:41
Uncontrolled Keywords: climate variability; food production; migration; conflict; The Hexi Corridor
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
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