Drought variation of western Chinese Loess Plateau since 1568 and its linkages with droughts in western North America

  • Keyan Fang
  • Zhengtang Guo
  • Deliang Chen
  • Hans W. Linderholm
  • Jinbao Li
  • Feifei Zhou
  • Guoyang Guo
  • Zhipeng Dong
  • Yingjun Li


Understanding long-term drought variations in the past can help to evaluate ongoing and future hydroclimate change in the arid western Chinese Loess Plateau (WCLP), a region with increasing demand for water resources due to the increasing population and socioeconomic activities. Here we present a new tree-ring chronology inform the WCLP, which shows coherent interannual variations with tree-ring chronologies from 7 neighboring areas across the WCLP, suggesting a common regional climate control over tree growth. However, considerable differences are observed among their interdecadal variations, which are likely due to growth disturbances at interdecadal timescales. To deal with this issue, we use a frequency based method to develop a composite tree-ring chronology from 401 tree-ring series from these 8 sites, which shows more pronounced interdecadal variability than a chronology developed using traditional methods. The composite tree-ring chronology is used to reconstruct the annual precipitation from previous August to current July from 1568 to 2012, extending about 50 years longer than the previous longest tree-ring reconstruction from the region. The driest epoch of our reconstruction is found in the 1920s–1930s, which matches well with droughts recorded in historical documents. Over the past four centuries, a strong resemblance between drought variability in the WCLP and western North America (WNA) is evident on multidecadal timescales, but this relationship breaks down on timescales shorter than about 50 years.


Tree ring Drought Western Chinese Loess Plateau Western North America Multi-decadal timescale 

Supplementary material

382_2017_3545_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 34405 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Humid Subtropical Eco-geographical Process (Ministry of Education), Institute of Geography, College of Geographical SciencesFujian Normal UniversityFuzhouChina
  2. 2.Regional Climate Group, Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesBeijingChina
  6. 6.Department of GeographyUniversity of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong

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