ENSO: EXTREME CLIMATE EVENTS AND THEIR IMPACTS ON ASIAN DELTAS1

Authors

  • William Y B. Chang

    1. Program Director, Division of International Programs, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia 22230 (also Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Sciences and the School of Natural Resources and Environment, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109).
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  • 1

    Paper No. 96070 of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (formerly Water Resources Bulletin). Discussions are open until December 1, 1997.

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Proxy climate data for the last 500 years collected from the archives of counties in the Yangtze River Delta, China, were analyzed to identify the occurrence of extreme climate events, the pattern of such occurrences and their relationships to El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This study identified the cycle periods of 3.5, 5.5 and 8.6 years for floods and 18.5 years for droughts in the Yangtze River Delta during the last 500 year period and noted 16 regional (delta wide) extreme events during this period. All regional (delta wide) extreme climate events during the last 500 years (since 1500 A.D.) occurred either during or immediately after ENSO (5–6 year) activities. Hydrological impacts of extreme climate events, such as major floods and droughts, on human systems have long been among the foremost concerns of the Pacific Rim countries. Management of systems increasingly dominated by humans, such as Asian delta regions, should, therefore, include consideration of major climate variability, ENSO events and the extent of climate changes, as well as consideration of the trends associated with human growth and institutional changes.

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