14 June 2024
Pearl River floods plague southern China

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Pearl River floods have recurrently occurred in southern China, posing a significant threat to the region’s population and economy. The lower Pearl River, with its dense population and economic activity, is particularly vulnerable to flood exposure.

Understanding the History of Devastating Pearl River Floods in Southern China



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Published on: June 15, 2022 Description: For more: https://news.cgtn.com/news/2022-06-15/South-China-s-Pearl-River-basin-sees-major-floods-1aSJ2CkS7cI/index.html ...
South China's Pearl River basin sees major floods
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Introduction

Floods pose a significant threat to communities worldwide, causing immense damage and loss of life. The Pearl River, the longest watercourse in southern China, is particularly vulnerable to flooding, with over 400 major flood disasters recorded in the past 2,000 years. Scientists have recently uncovered evidence of recurrent megafloods in the lower Pearl River area, shedding light on the region’s flood history and potential future risks.

Uncovering the Past: Evidence of Megafloods in the Pearl River

A team of researchers, led by Prof. Zhuo Zheng and Prof. Yongqiang Zong, conducted a detailed study to reconstruct the history of great floods in the lower Pearl River area. They analyzed sediment layers in Gaoyao County, west of the Pearl River Delta, and identified seven distinct clay layers, interpreted as flood deposits. These flood deposits, designated FL1 to FL7, spanned the past 6,000 years and revealed a pattern of recurrent megafloods.

Megafloods and Their Impacts in the Pearl River

The megafloods identified in the study were characterized by their immense water volume, estimated to be 1.5 times that of the once-in-a-century Yimao Flood in 1915. These floods had a significant impact on the region, shaping its landscape and influencing human civilization.

The researchers found that the great floods coincided with periods of weakened Asian summer monsoons and increased El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) frequency. This suggests that a combination of weak monsoon and enhanced ENSO activity may have triggered these catastrophic floods.

Cultural and Societal Implications of Pearl River Floods

The recurrent megafloods in the Pearl River basin had a profound impact on local civilization and human society. The Dragon Mother, worshipped as a water god and protector against floods, is believed to have originated during the Qin Dynasty, coinciding with the FL5 flood. Additionally, the construction of levees along the West Pearl River during the Song Dynasty was likely a response to the devastating FL7 flood.

Lessons from the Past for the Future of Pearl River Floods

The study highlights the importance of understanding past flood events to better prepare for future risks. The findings suggest that southern China may face an increased risk of extreme flooding during periods of intensified ENSO activity in the future. This knowledge can inform flood management strategies and help communities mitigate the impacts of future flood disasters.

Wrapping Up

The discovery of recurrent megafloods in the lower Pearl River provides valuable insights into the region’s flood history and potential future risks. By studying past flood events, scientists can better understand the mechanisms that drive these disasters and develop strategies to protect vulnerable communities from their devastating impacts.

FAQ’s

1. What is the significance of the Pearl River in southern China?

The Pearl River is the longest watercourse in southern China and is prone to flooding, with over 400 major flood disasters recorded in the past 2,000 years.

2. What evidence suggests the occurrence of recurrent megafloods in the lower Pearl River area?

Scientists have analyzed sediment layers in Gaoyao County and identified seven distinct clay layers, interpreted as flood deposits, spanning the past 6,000 years.

3. What was the impact of these megafloods?

The megafloods had a significant impact on the region, shaping its landscape and influencing human civilization. They coincided with periods of weakened Asian summer monsoons and increased El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) frequency.

4. How did these megafloods affect local civilization and human society?

The recurrent megafloods had a profound impact on local civilization and human society. The Dragon Mother, worshipped as a water god and protector against floods, is believed to have originated during the Qin Dynasty, coinciding with the FL5 flood. The construction of levees along the West Pearl River during the Song Dynasty was likely a response to the devastating FL7 flood.

5. What lessons can be learned from past flood events for the future?

The study highlights the importance of understanding past flood events to better prepare for future risks. The findings suggest that southern China may face an increased risk of extreme flooding during periods of intensified ENSO activity in the future. This knowledge can inform flood management strategies and help communities mitigate the impacts of future flood disasters.

Links to additional Resources:

https://www.nature.com https://www.science.org https://www.pnas.org

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Pearl River floods, Megafloods in southern China, Dragon Mother (Chinese mythology)

Flooding of the Pearl River
The Pearl River (or Zhujiang) Basin is one of China's largest river basins, located in South China within total area approximately 453,700 square kilometers in Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan, Jiangxi and Fujian provinces, and part of Northeastern Vietnam. The Pearl River basin consists of three main tributaries: the Xi...
Read more: Flooding of the Pearl River

Outburst flood
In geomorphology, an outburst flood—a type of megaflood—is a high-magnitude, low-frequency catastrophic flood involving the sudden release of a large quantity of water. During the last deglaciation, numerous glacial lake outburst floods were caused by the collapse of either ice sheets or glaciers that formed the dams of proglacial lakes....
Read more: Outburst flood

Chinese dragon
The Chinese Dragon (simplified Chinese: 龙; traditional Chinese: 龍; pinyin: lóng) is a legendary creature in Chinese mythology, Chinese folklore, and Chinese culture at large. Chinese dragons have many animal-like forms such as turtles and fish, but are most commonly depicted as snake-like with four legs. Academicians have identified four...
Read more: Chinese dragon

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