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Tree rings reveal recent intensified spring drought in the central Himalaya, Nepal

First Author: Panthi S
Abstract: To better understand long-term drought variations in the central Himalaya, we developed new tree-ring width chronologies of Himalayan spruce (Picea smithiana (Wall.) Boiss.) from three sites in the north-western Nepal. The local site chronologies showed high cross correlations and similar growth-climate responses to regional spring drought variability. We thus combined all site chronologies into a regional composite (RC) standard chronology that spans 516 years (1498–2013 CE). The RC chronology showed significant positive (negative) correlations with spring (March–May) precipitation (temperature) variability. Meanwhile, RC chronology showed the highest correlation with spring self-calibrating Palmer drought severity index (scPDSI, r = 0.652, p < 0.001), indicating that radial growth of P. smithiana is strongly limited by spring moisture availability. Using RC chronology, we reconstructed the spring drought variability for the period 1725–2013, which explained 42.5% variance of the actual scPDSI during the calibration period 1957–2012. Our reconstructed spring drought variability in the central Himalaya showed consistent wet-dry episodes with other regional drought and precipitation reconstructions from the Himalaya and nearby regions. Spectral peaks and spatial correlation analysis indicate that spring drought variability in the central Himalaya may be linked to large scale climatic drivers, mainly Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation activities due to sea surface temperatures variation in the Atlantic Ocean. Our reconstruction revealed a continuous shift toward drier conditions in the central Himalaya since early 1980s that coincide with continental-scale warming and reduced spring precipitation in the central Himalaya.
Contact the author: Fan ZX
Page Number: 26-34
Impact Factor: 3.915
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PubYear: Oct 2017
Volume: 157
Publication Name: Global and Planetary Change
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