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Long-term relationship between climate change and nomadic migration in historical China

Qing Pei, Department of Geography and International Centre for China Development Study, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
David D. Zhang, Department of Geography and International Centre for China Development Study, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06528-190268

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Abstract

We investigated the relationship between a 2000-year history of nomadic migration and climate change in historical China. By using updated data and statistical methods, the study solved several unanswered questions from past research about the relationship between climate change and the nomadic migration, especially over the long term and on a large spatial scale. The study used correlation analysis, multiple regression analysis, and Granger causality analysis to quantitatively verify the following causal pathway: climate change → nomadic migration → conflicts between pastoralists and agriculturalists. In the long term, precipitation was a statistically more influential factor on nomadic migration than temperature in historical China. How climate change affects the migration of nomadic minorities in the long term is theoretically explained based on the Push-Pull model as well as statistical evidence.

Key words

climate change; historical China; nomadic migration; pastoralist–agriculturalist conflict; quantitative analysis

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087