The Truth About The Deadly 1887 Yellow River Flood

Yellow River

The Yellow River is one of the most well-known and frequently visited rivers in China, but nearly 150 years ago, it was the source of the world's deadliest natural disaster at the time (via Live Science ). The river was controlled and restrained through a series of dikes and dams that guided the river through the farmland but left the water level dangerously high compared to the lowlands. During the 1880s, the dikes filled up with silt, gradually raising the water level even further until things came to a head in 1887 when heavy rainfall triggered the flood.

The valley below the Yellow River was flooded with a deluge of water that covered a whopping 5000 square miles of land — an area bigger than the size of Connecticut (via State Symbols USA ). The massive flood destroyed both farmland and lives on a tragically large scale. While no official, certified death toll exists, estimates suggest that 900,000 to 2 million people were lost to the flood.

The river is closely monitored today

The Yellow River, which is over 3000 miles long, is the deadliest river in the world because of its knack for flooding its surrounding plains. Before the 1887 flood, Chinese farmers had been building dikes for centuries in hopes of avoiding catastrophes, such as deluges that would claim the lives of millions (via Encyclopedia of Disasters ). Eventually, silt was deposited in the slower areas of the river, and it overflowed in the Henan province. The water destroyed countless cities and villages and the land was buried under a pile of mud. The resulting landscape was said to more closely resemble the Sahara rather than the fertile farmland that previously stood.

At the time, there was very little organization within the Chinese government in dealing with emergencies — particularly one on the scale of the 1887 flood. Missionaries only had meager food supplies to hand out to the thousands of starving survivors, and disease broke out as well. Repairs to the dikes took two years of grueling and often fatal hard labor. Today, the Yellow River is guarded by an intricate series of dams with controlled releases of water to prevent another catastrophe like the 1887 flood and the ones that followed in the early 20th century.

  • Published: 25 June 2021

Successful and sustainable governance of the lower Yellow River, China: A floodplain utilization approach for balancing ecological conservation and development

  • Jinliang Zhang 1 ,
  • Yizi Shang   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8432-9561 1 , 2 ,
  • Meng Cui 1 ,
  • Qiushi Luo 1 &
  • Ruihai Zhang 1  

Environment, Development and Sustainability volume  24 ,  pages 3014–3038 ( 2022 ) Cite this article

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A novel model has been proposed for the methodical development and safe utilization of the lower Yellow River floodplain to provide flood control with a graded standard, sediment deposition in the partitioned zone, and the free exchange of channel runoff and sediment. The wide floodplain, which is located between the dam and the main channel, has been typically divided into three zones: high, tender, and low floodplains. Meanwhile, different ecological construction models have been suggested for each zone. This paper summarizes all related research findings; describes the overall research ideas and methodologies; expounds key issues such as land planning and utilization, sediment prediction and regulation, and multi-dimensional industrial safeguards in the lower Yellow River floodplain; and provides orientation for future research on the ecological development of the lower Yellow River floodplain. This study aims to promote the refinement of the ecological development model for the lower Yellow River floodplain and accelerate the application of research findings regarding land development and utilization of the lower Yellow River floodplain.

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This work was jointly supported by the Yellow River Engineering Consulting Co., Ltd. [Grant No. 2019GS007-WW03/20] and the State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin [Grant No. SKL2020ZY10].

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Jinliang Zhang, Yizi Shang, Meng Cui, Qiushi Luo & Ruihai Zhang

State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycles in River Basins, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing, 100038, China

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Zhang, J., Shang, Y., Cui, M. et al. Successful and sustainable governance of the lower Yellow River, China: A floodplain utilization approach for balancing ecological conservation and development. Environ Dev Sustain 24 , 3014–3038 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-021-01593-9

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Received : 01 October 2020

Accepted : 14 June 2021

Published : 25 June 2021

Issue Date : March 2022

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-021-01593-9

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COMMENTS

  1. Huang He floods

    Huang He floods, series of devastating floods (1887, 1931, 1938) in China caused by the overflowing of the Huang He (Yellow River), the country’s second longest river. These three floods collectively killed millions and are considered to be the three deadliest floods in history.

  2. 1887 Yellow River flood

    The 1887 Yellow River flood in Qing China began in September 1887 and killed at least 930,000 people. [1] [2] It was the single deadliest flood in China, making it one of the largest disasters in China by death toll . History

  3. The Truth About The Deadly 1887 Yellow River Flood

    The Truth About The Deadly 1887 Yellow River Flood Tpg/Getty Images By Toby Arguello / Aug. 27, 2021 2:08 pm EST The Yellow River is one of the most well-known and frequently visited rivers in China, but nearly 150 years ago, it was the source of the world's deadliest natural disaster at the time (via Live Science ).

  4. Yellow River flooding during the past two millennia from

    The Yellow River has caused suffering to people with its devastating floods throughout human history. Understanding the occurrence of Yellow River floods and their relationship with climate change is crucial for sustainable water governance in North China.

  5. Successful and sustainable governance of the lower Yellow

    Article Review Published: 25 June 2021 Successful and sustainable governance of the lower Yellow River, China: A floodplain utilization approach for balancing ecological conservation and development Jinliang Zhang, Yizi Shang, Meng Cui, Qiushi Luo & Ruihai Zhang Environment, Development and Sustainability 24 , 3014–3038 ( 2022) Cite this article

  6. Erosion, Flooding and Climate in Yellow River History

    It is a complex system that carries organic and mineral material out of higher altitude locations and deposits them on a floodplain or estuary. [1] The Yellow River, situated near the northern perimeter of the East Asia Summer Monsoon, is currently the most sediment laden river in the world. It carries sediment from the Loess Plateau, located ...