Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2012, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (6): 963-976.doi: 10.1007/s11442-012-0976-4

• Climate Change •     Next Articles

Major natural disasters and their spatio-temporal variation in the history of China

LIU Yi1, YANG Yu1,2, LI Li3   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China;
    3. Academy of China Development Bank, Beijing 100037, China
  • Received:2012-03-10 Revised:2012-05-31 Online:2012-12-15 Published:2012-12-15


Based on historical documents and records this paper analyzes the characteristics of frequency and distribution of major disasters that took place in the history of China. The findings show that occurrences of different types of disasters varied and spatial pattern at provincial level are significantly different as well. The results also indicate that there is a strong relationship between type of disasters and spatial distribution and that the spatial pattern of losses was not the same as that of the frequency. The reasons are: (1) the hazard-formative environments which, to a large extent, determine the spatial pattern of the disasters are significantly different; (2) the losses caused by natural disasters were closely related to the concentration of economy and population. Number of deaths was usually large in areas where agriculture, culture and business were relatively developed. The spatial pattern of disaster losses is an evitable result of uneven economic development in the history of China.

Key words: natural disasters, spatial pattern, historical period, China