A 3,500-year tree-ring record of annual precipitation on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau

Bao Yang, Chun Qin, Jianglin Wang, Minhui He, Thomas M. Melvin, Timothy J. Osborn, Keith R. Briffa

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An annually resolved and absolutely dated ring-width chronology spanning 4,500 y has been constructed using subfossil, archaeological, and living-tree juniper samples from the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. The chronology represents changing mean annual precipitation and is most reliable after 1500 B.C. Reconstructed precipitation for this period displays a trend toward more moist conditions: the last 10-, 25-, and 50-y periods all appear to be the wettest in at least three and a half millennia. Notable historical dry periods occurred in the 4th century BCE and in the second half of the 15th century CE. The driest individual year reconstructed (since 1500 B.C.) is 1048 B.C., whereas the wettest is 2010. Precipitation variability in this region appears not to be associated with inferred changes in Asian monsoon intensity during recent millennia. The chronology displays a statistical association with the multidecadal and longer-term variability of reconstructed mean Northern Hemisphere temperatures over the last two millennia. This suggests that any further large-scale warming might be associated with even greater moisture supply in this region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2903-2908
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2014

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