Climate Dynamics

, Volume 26, Issue 2–3, pp 295–303

Tree-ring-based hydrological records for western Himalaya, India, since a.d. 1560



We analysed 565 increment cores from 325 Himalayan cedar [Cedrus deodara (Roxb.) G. Don] trees growing at 13 moisture-stressed, widely distributed sites in the western Himalayan region. We found a strong positive relationship between our tree-ring width chronologies and spring precipitation which enabled us to reconstruct precipitation back to a.d. 1560. This reconstruction is so far the longest in this region. The calibration model explains 40% variance in the instrumental data (1953–1997). The most striking feature of the reconstruction is the unprecedented increase in precipitation during the late twentieth century relative to the past 438 years. Both wet and dry springs occurred during the Little Ice Age. A 10-year running mean showed that the driest period occurred in the seventeenth century while the wettest period occurred in the twentieth century. Spectral analysis of the reconstructed series indicated a dominant 2-year periodicity.


  1. Angell JK (1981) Comparison of variations in atmospheric quantities with sea surface temperature variations in the equatorial Pacific. Mon Weather Rev 109:203–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blanford HF (1884) On the connection of the Himalayan snowfall with dry winds and seasons of drought in India. Proc R Soc Lond 37:3–22Google Scholar
  3. Blasing TJ, Duvick DN, West DC (1981) Dendroclimatic calibration and verification using regionally averaged and single station precipitation data. Tree-Ring Bull 41:37–43Google Scholar
  4. Borgaonkar HP, Pant GB, Rupa Kumar K (1994) Dendroclimatic reconstruction of summer precipitation at Srinagar, Kashmir, India since the late-eighteenth century. Holocene 4:299–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bradley RS (1999) Palaeoclimatology, reconstructing climates of the Quaternary, 2nd edn. Academic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Bräuning A, Mantwill B (2004) Summer temperature and summer monsoon history on the Tibetan plateau during the last 400 years recorded by tree rings. Geophys Res Lett 31:L24205. DOI 10.1029/2004GL020793Google Scholar
  7. Briffa KR, Osborn TJ, Schweingruber FH, Harris IC, Jones PD, Shiyatov SG, Vaganov EA (2001) Low-frequency temperature variations from a northern tree ring density network. J Geophys Res 106:2929–2941CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cook ER (1985) A time series approach to tree-ring standardization. PhD dissertation, University of ArizonaGoogle Scholar
  9. Cook ER, Kairiukstis LA (eds) (1990) Methods of dendrochronology: applications in environmental sciences. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, p 394Google Scholar
  10. Cook ER, Krusic PJ, Jones PD (2003) Dendroclimatic signals in long tree-ring chronologies from the Himalayas of Nepal. Int J Climatol 23:707–732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dash SK, Singh GP, Shekhar MS, Vernekar AD (2005) Response of the Indian summer monsoon circulation and rainfall to seasonal snow depth anomaly over Eurasia. Clim Dyn 24:1–10. DOI 10.1007/s00382–004–0448–3Google Scholar
  12. Dey B, Bhanukumar OSRU (1983) The Himalayan winter snow cover area and summer monsoon rainfall over India. J Geophys Res 88:5471–5474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Diaz HF, Pulwarty RS (1994) An analysis of the time scales of variability in centuries-long enso-sensitive records in the last 1000 years. Clim Change 26:317–342. DOI 10.1007/BF01092422Google Scholar
  14. Diaz SC, Touchan R, Swetnam TW (2001) A tree-ring reconstruction of past precipitation for Baja California Sur, Mexico. Int J Clim 21:1007–1019. DOI 10.1002/joc.664Google Scholar
  15. Douville H, Royer JF (1996) Sensitivity of the Asian summer monsoon to an anomalous Eurasian snow cover within the meteo-France GCM. Clim Dyn 12:449–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elliott WP, Angell JK (1988) Evidence for changes in Southern Oscillation relationships during the last 100 years. J Clim 1:729–737CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Esper J (2000) Long-term tree-ring variations in Juniperus at the upper timber-line in the Karakorum (Pakistan). Holocene 10:253–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fasullo J (2004) A stratified diagnosis of the Indian monsoon-Eurasian snow cover relationship. J Clim 17:1110–1122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fritts HC (1976) Tree-rings and climate. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Gadgil S (1996) Climate change and agriculture—an Indian perspective. In: Abrol YP, Gadgil S, Pant GB (eds) Climate variability and agriculture. New Delhi, pp 1–18Google Scholar
  21. Grove JM (1988) The Little Ice Age. Methuen, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Holmes RL (1983) Computer-assisted quality control in tree-ring dating and measurement. Tree-Ring Bull 43:69–78Google Scholar
  23. Hughes MK (1992) Dendroclimatic evidence from the western Himalaya. In: Bradley RS, Jones PD (eds) Climate since AD 1500. Routledge, London, pp 415–431Google Scholar
  24. Jacoby GC, Lovelius V, Shumilov OI, Raspopov OM, Karbainov JM, Frank DC (2000) Long-term temperature trends and tree-growth in the Taymir region of northern Siberia. Quaternary Res 53:312–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Khandekar ML (1991) Eurasian snow cover, Indian monsoon and El-Nino/Southern Oscillation—a synthesis. Atmos Ocean 29:636–647Google Scholar
  26. Lamb HH (1977) Climate—present, past and future. Climatic history and future 2. Methuen, LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Li C, Yanai M (1996) The onset and inter annual variability of the Asian summer monsoon in relation to land–sea thermal contrast. J Clim 9:358–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Meehl GA (1997) The south Asian monsoon and the tropospheric biennial oscillation. J Clim 10:1921–1943CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mooley DA, Parthasarathy B (1984) Indian summer monsoon rainfall and the east equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature. Atmos Ocean 22:23–35Google Scholar
  30. Office of the Registrar General (2001) Census of India, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  31. Parthasarathy B, Rupa Kumar K, Munot AA (1991) Evidence of secular variations in Indian rainfall–circulation relationships. J Clim 4:927–938CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pederson N, Jacoby GC, D’Arrigo RD, Cook ER, Buckley BM, Dugarjav C, Mijiddorj R (2001) Hydrometeorological reconstructions for northeastern Mongolia derived from tree-rings: AD 1651–1995. J Clim 14:872–881CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Prell WL, Kutzbach JE (1992) Sensitivity of the Indian monsoon to forcing parameters and implications for its evolution. Nature 360:647–652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Singh J, Yadav RR (2005) Spring precipitation variations over the western Himalaya, India since AD 1731 as deduced from tree rings. J Geophys Res 110:D01110. DOI 10.1029/2004JD004855Google Scholar
  35. Stokes MA, Smiley TL (1968) An introduction to tree-ring dating. The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  36. Thapliyal V (1987) Prediction of Indian monsoon variability evaluation and prospects including development of a new model. In: Ye D, Fu C, Chano J, Yoshino M (eds) Climate of China and global climate. China Ocean Press, Beijing, pp 397–416Google Scholar
  37. Vernekar AD, Zhou J, Shukla J (1995) The effect of Eurasian snow cover on the Indian monsoon. J Clim 8:248–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Webster PJ, Magana VO, Palmer TN, Shukla J, Tomas RA, Yanai M, Yasunari T (1998) Monsoons: processes, predictability, and the prospects for prediction. J Geophys Res 103:14451–14510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wigley TML, Briffa KR, Jones PD (1984) On the average value of correlated time series, with applications in dendroclimatology and hydrometeorology. J Clim Appl Meteorol 23:201–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yadav RR, Park WK (2000) Precipitation reconstruction using ring-width chronology of Himalayan cedar from western Himalaya: preliminary results. Proc Indian Acad Sci (Earth Planet Sci) 109:339–345Google Scholar
  41. Yadav RR, Singh J (2002) Tree-ring-based spring temperature patterns over the past four centuries in western Himalaya. Quaternary Res 57:299–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Yadav RR, Park WK, Singh J, Dubey B (2004) Do the western Himalayas defy global warming? Geophys Res Lett 31:L17201. DOI 10.1029/2004GL020201Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Birbal Sahni Institute of PalaeobotanyLucknowIndia
  2. 2.School of Forest Resources, College of AgricultureChungbuk National UniversityCheongjuSouth Korea

Personalised recommendations