The response of relative humidity to centennial-scale warming over the southeastern Tibetan Plateau inferred from tree-ring width chronologies
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Understanding the past variability in atmospheric moisture associated with global warming is essential for reducing the uncertainties in climate projections. Such understanding is especially necessary in the Asian monsoon region in the context of increasing anthropogenic forcing. Here, we average four tree-ring width chronologies from the southeastern Tibetan Plateau (TP) over their common intervals and reconstruct the variability in regional relative humidity (RH) from the previous May to the current March over 1751–2005. In contrast to the summer drying associated with centennial-scale warming and the weakening of the Asian summer monsoon, our RH reconstruction shows no significant centennial trend from the 1820s through the 2000s. This absence of a consistent signal is due to the combined effects of contrasting moisture trends during the monsoonal and non-monsoonal seasons, which are controlled by summer monsoon precipitation and local convective precipitation, respectively. The interannual and decadal variability of our RH reconstruction is modulated by El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO); however, these links are unstable over time. Two rapid increases in moisture are found to have occurred around the 1820s and 1980s; the latter increase caused the variability in RH during the 1980s–2000s to be the largest over the entire reconstruction period.
This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC; 31600354), the National Research and Development Programme of China (2016YFC0502105), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities.
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