Climatic Change

, Volume 145, Issue 1–2, pp 177–188 | Cite as

Discrete seasonal hydroclimate reconstructions over northern Vietnam for the past three and a half centuries

  • Kyle G. HansenEmail author
  • Brendan M. Buckley
  • Brian Zottoli
  • Rosanne D. D’Arrigo
  • Le Canh Nam
  • Vinh Van Truong
  • Dung Tien Nguyen
  • Hau Xuan Nguyen


We present a 350-year hydroclimatic year (HY) index for northern Vietnam derived from three discrete seasonal reconstructions from tree rings: an index of autumn rainfall from the earlywood widths of Chinese Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga sinensis), the first such record from this species, and two nearby published Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) reconstructions from cypress (Fokienia hodginsii) tree rings for spring and summer, respectively. Autumn rainfall over the study region constitutes only around 9% of the annual total, but its variability is strongly linked to the strength of the atmospheric gradient over Asia during the transition from the boreal summer to winter monsoons. Deficit or surplus of autumn rainfall enhances or mitigates, respectively, the impact of the annual winter dry season on trees growing on porous karst hillsides. The most protracted HY drought (dry across all seasons) occurred at the turn of the twentieth century at a time of relative quiet, but a mid-to-late eighteenth century multi-year HY drought coincided with a period of great societal turmoil across mainland Southeast Asia and the Tay Son Rebellion in northern Vietnam. A mid-nineteenth century uprising accompanied by a smallpox epidemic, crop failure and famine, occurred during the worst autumn drought of the past two and a half centuries but only moderate drought in spring and summer. The “Great Vietnamese Famine” of the mid-twentieth century was dry only in autumn, with a wet spring and an average summer.



The authors would like to thank the officials and staff from the Kim Hy Natural Reserve for their assistance with the fieldwork, as well as colleagues from Nong Lam University and the Southern Institute of Ecology, both in HCMC, who have supported this project over the past several years. We also extend our sincere thanks to Drs. Chenxi Xu and Masaki Sano for the use of their published reconstructions from Mu Cang Chai Fokienia hodginsii tree rings for comparing with our own and to Dr. Simon Wang and Dr. Lin Wang and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on our paper. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation of the USA research grants AGS 12-03818, AGS 13-03976, with additional funding from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s Climate Center and Climate and Life initiatives. Lamont Contribution No. 8152.

Supplementary material

10584_2017_2084_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21.8 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 22318 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tree Ring Laboratory of the Lamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryColumbia UniversityPalisadesUSA
  2. 2.Loyola University Vietnam CenterHo Chi Minh CityVietnam
  3. 3.Department of SilvicultureForest Science Institute of the Central Highlands and South Central VietnamDalat CityVietnam
  4. 4.Department of ForestryNong Lam UniversityHo Chi Minh CityVietnam
  5. 5.Kim Hy Natural ReserveVu MuonVietnam
  6. 6.Department of Life SciencesNational Cheng Kung UniversityTainanRepublic of China

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