Abstract: Background, aim, and scope In recent years, historical disaster research based on geography has focused on the spatial distribution and construction of time series. There are few studies on cases that combine environmental background and social response. Based on historical documents, this paper analyzes the mass outbreaks of droughts, floods, and locust plagues in China from 1615 AD to 1919 AD to clarify their temporal and spatial evolution and explore the environmental background and social response. Materials and methods Records of natural disasters in historical documents, such as the Three Thousand Years Meteorological Record Collection in China and the History of Locust Plague in China, were selected, and the occurrence of disasters were determined by mathematical statistics and spatial analysis methods. Results The locust plague event lasted for 5 years and peaked in 1616 and 1617 AD. In general, the intensity of the locust plague was mainly moderate and high. The Huang-Huai-Hai Plain was the main region affected, and Shandong, Henan and Anhui Provinces were the most affected provinces in the country. The spatial distribution shows the pattern of “intensive in the north, sparse in the south” and “dominant in the north”. The drought-locust overlay chain was frequently concentrated on the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, while the flood-locust overlay chain rarely occurred. The occurrence of secondary disasters such as famine and epidemics reflected the spatiotemporal transmission of disasters with a lag effect. During the cold period, the outbreaks of the locust plague significantly positively correlated with temperature and negatively correlated with precipitation. Discussion Based on the historical documents, this paper analyzes natural disaster events in China in the early 17th century. The climate background and social impact of droughts, floods, and locust plagues confirmed the disaster-chain mode. Compared with research on a single disaster, the disaster-chain mode highlights the continuity of disasters and the continuity of climate change. The case study is relatively more precise for specific periods and specific areas. Case studies can explore the relationship among environment-disaster-society at the micro scale, but the conclusions are not universal. Conclusions Judging from the duration and intensity, these events were a typical mass-based disaster cluster in history. Among the disasters, the locust plague was concentrated on the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, and the main affected area tended to migrate from north to south. There was a significant linkage between drought and the locust plague, warming significantly promoted the occurrence of the locust plague, and precipitation had an inhibitory effect. Secondary disasters such as famine and epidemics, together with drought, flood, and the locust plague, constituted a typical agricultural disaster chain, and the occurrence of secondary disasters had a lag effect. Recommendations and perspectives From the distribution and relationship among drought, flood and locust plague, being close to water was an important feature of the locust plague, and the relationship between historical hydrological changes and locust plagues needs to be clarified. A natural phenomenon that causes harm to humans and society becomes a disaster. As the most important entity affected, humans have experienced a certain degree of abnormal population migration. Additionally, the lag of secondary disasters must be determined by quantitative methods such as factor analysis to determine a complete disaster mode.
Keywords: locust plague; spatial pattern; evolution process; environmental background; social response