No drought is fun, but the discovery of drought evidence is! This short article from the NY Times tells of the discovery of events that happened during seven droughts between 1520-1920. These were written on Dayu Cave’s walls in the Qinling Mountains. One of the inscriptions says…you should read it for yourself. It’s so cool!
A Chinese Drought Weather Report Written on Cave Walls
By SINDYA N. BHANOO
Writings on the walls of a cave in China record the effects of droughts over the last 500 years, researchers have found.
The inscriptions are on the walls of Dayu Cave in the Qinling Mountains of central China. They describe the impacts of seven droughts between 1520 and 1920.
One inscription, dated 1528, reads, “Drought occurred in the 7th year of the Emperor Jiajing period, Ming Dynasty. Gui Jiang and Sishan Jiang came to Da’an town to acknowledge the Dragon Lake inside in Dayu Cave.”
Another, from 1891, reads, “On May 24th, 17th year of the Emperor Guangxu period, Qing Dynasty, the local mayor, Huaizong Zhu, led more than 200 people into the cave to get water. A fortune-teller named Zhenrong Ran prayed for rain during the ceremony.”
The cave inscriptions are described in the journal Scientific Reports.
Researchers also analyzed stalagmites in Dayu Cave, which are formed by dripping water and contain rings that record their growth, as do trees.
After analyzing the stable isotopes of oxygen, carbon and concentrations of uranium and other elements inside the stalagmites, the researchers found higher oxygen and carbon isotope ratios in years with lower rainfall.
“We now have a direct link between what people experienced at the time and our geochemical reference,” said Sebastian Breitenbach, a climate scientist at the University of Cambridge and one of the paper’s co-authors.
He and his colleagues used the information from the stalagmites to construct a model of precipitation in the region in more recent times. It correlated with a drought in the 1990s and predicted another in the late 2030s.