A tree ring-based winter temperature reconstruction for the southeastern Tibetan Plateau since 1340 CE

Abstract

Climatic change is exhibiting significant effects on the ecosystem of the Tibetan Plateau (TP), a climate-sensitive area. In particularly, winter frost, freezing events and snow avalanche frequently causing severe effects on ecosystem and social economy, however, few long-term winter temperature records or reconstructions hinder a better understanding on variations in winter temperature in the vast area of the TP. In this paper, we present a minimum winter (November–February) temperature reconstruction for the past 668 years based on a tree-ring network (12 new tree-ring chronologies) on the southeastern TP. The reconstruction exhibits decadal to inter-decadal temperature variability, with cold periods occurring in 1423–1508, 1592–1651, 1729–1768, 1798–1847, 1892–1927, and 1958–1981, and warm periods in 1340–1422, 1509–1570, 1652–1728, 1769–1797, 1848–1891, 1928–1957, and 1982–2007. As suggested by the comparisons with existing winter temperature series and spatial correlations with Climatic Research Unit gridded data, our reconstruction is reliable and indicative, and it can represent large-scale winter temperature variability on the southeastern TP. Furthermore, it shows an overall agreement with winter temperature from the northeastern TP on decadal to inter-decadal timescales. It also shows the possible effects of volcanic eruption and reducing solar activity on the winter temperature variability for the past six centuries on the southeastern TP.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41571201, 41771240, 41661144040) and CAS “West Light Foundation” Program, and the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. XDA20050101). Data of tree-ring width chronologies and winter temperature reconstruction in the present study are available by contacting Dr. Haifeng Zhu (zhuhf@itpcas.ac.cn). The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Huang, R., Zhu, H., Liang, E. et al. A tree ring-based winter temperature reconstruction for the southeastern Tibetan Plateau since 1340 CE. Clim Dyn 53, 3221–3233 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-019-04695-3

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Keywords

  • Dendroclimatology
  • Southeastern Tibetan Plateau
  • Winter temperature
  • Solar activity
  • Volcanic eruption