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Drought variability in eastern Mongolian Plateau and its linkages to the large-scale climate forcing

Abstract

A robust regional tree-ring chronology with a span of 1819–2009 was developed for the Hulun Buir steppe, China, a region in the eastern edge of the Mongolian Plateau. This chronology exhibited significantly positive correlation with precipitation in June, and negative correlations with temperature from April to September except for May. Highest correlation was found between tree rings and the average April–August standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI), suggesting that pines growth strongly respond to the seasonal drought conditions. Accordingly, the average April–August SPEI reconstruction was performed for the period 1854–2009, explaining 45.5 % variance of the calibration period 1953–2009. New reconstruction shows some synchrony with regional-scale events found in other reconstructions to the west Mongolian Plateau. The recent droughts in late 1990 to present are not unusual in the context of the past several centuries. Spectrum analyses suggested that the average April–August SPEI variations, especially severe droughts in the late 1870s-early 1880s, 1920s and since the late 1990s could be associated with large-scale climate forcing, such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the summer North Atlantic Oscillation. Significant teleconnections indicated drought variability during the past several centuries in eastern Mongolian Plateau existed close connections with large-scale synoptic features.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to the editor Dr. David George DeWitt and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. We thank Director Yuxiang Ge from HongHuaErJi, Forest National Nature Reserve, for supporting this work. We also thank Hua Tian, Bo Sun, Caiyong Wang and Baofa Shen for their great help during the filed work and data analysis. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41301101, 41171170), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZCX2-YW-Q1-01 and KZZD-EW-04), the One-hundred Talents Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Basic Research Program of China (2013CB955903), the State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology Foundation (SKLLQG1302), Geography of Shaanxi Province key discipline and Baoji University of Arts and Sciences (ZK11063).

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Correspondence to Guang Bao or Yu Liu.

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382_2014_2273_MOESM1_ESM.tiff

Fig. S1 Spatial correlation of reconstructed average April–August SPEI with the sea surface temperature of NCDC ERSSTv3 (Smith et al. 2008) (first-difference series after removing trend) during the period 1953–2009 (TIFF 382 kb)

382_2014_2273_MOESM2_ESM.tif

Fig. S2 Sliding correlation of first-difference series of RECSPEI48 and the PDO reconstruction index (Felis et al. 2010) with a 21-year window (TIFF 1478 kb)

382_2014_2273_MOESM3_ESM.doc

Table S1 Magnitude and intensity of drought and pluvial events five-year or more in duration for the reconstructed average April–August SPEI for the Hulun Buir steppe (DOC 35 kb)

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Bao, G., Liu, Y., Liu, N. et al. Drought variability in eastern Mongolian Plateau and its linkages to the large-scale climate forcing. Clim Dyn 44, 717–733 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-014-2273-7

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Keywords

  • Tree rings
  • Regional drought
  • Eastern Mongolian Plateau
  • Teleconnection
  • Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica