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Recent tree-growth reduction in north central China as a combined result of a weakened monsoon and atmospheric oscillations


  • Shuyuan Kang
  • Bao Yang


  • Chun Qin


Tree-ring records are a valuable source of information for understanding long-term, regional-scale drought changes. In this study, a tree ring width chronology spanning the last 330 years (A.D. 1681–2010) is developed for the northern fringe of the Asian summer monsoon in north central China based on tree ring widths of the Chinese pine (Pinus tabulaeformis) at three sites in the Hasi Mountain (HSM). An annual (running from the previous August to the present July) Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) series is reconstructed for the period A.D. 1698 to 2010 using a linear regression model. This reconstruction accounts for 49 % of the actual PDSI variance during the calibration period (A.D.1951–2005). During the last past 330 years, the year 1759 drought was the most severe and the 1926–1932 drought was the most long-lasting. These drought episodes resulted in huge economic losses and severe famine. Similar periods of drought are also found in the Great Bend of the Yellow River region, northeastern Tibetan Plateau and northern China. Our drought reconstruction is consistent with the dry-wet index derived from historical documents for the Great Bend of the Yellow River region for the last three centuries, revealing that our annual PDSI reconstruction reflects broad-scale climate anomalies and represents drought variations in the northern fringe of the Asian summer monsoon. The PDSI reconstruction correlates significantly with sea surface temperature (SST) in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean and northern Indian Ocean at an annual timescale, implying that El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the Indian monsoon might be influencing drought variability in the study area. Some extremely dry years of 1707, 1764, 1837, 1854, 1878, 1884, 1926 and 1932 coincided with major El Niño events in historical times. The decadal-scale variability is linked to Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and SST variations in the Atlantic Ocean. The observed recent tree growth reduction is unusual when viewed from a long-term perspective. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Shuyuan Kang & Bao Yang & Chun Qin, 2012. "Recent tree-growth reduction in north central China as a combined result of a weakened monsoon and atmospheric oscillations," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 115(3), pages 519-536, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:115:y:2012:i:3:p:519-536
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0440-6

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