In a recent study published in Climate Dynamics, the researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences highlighted the potential of teak tree rings for extending the temporal and spatial availability of hydro-climate proxies in the monsoon regions of Southeast Asia.
The extensive distribution of teak (Tectona grandis) in the tropical forests in Southeast Asia makes it an important candidate for dendroclimatology in monsoon regions. Natural teak trees can be a valuable source to reconstruct precipitation beyond the existing instrumental records.
Based on increment cores from teak trees growing in the tropical forests of north-central Myanmar, the researchers first constructed a well-replicated regional composite ring-width chronology for the period 1700–2016.
They found that the tree-ring chronology shows a strong positive correlation with regional May–October precipitation, and the teak radial growth is strongly sensitive to moisture variability during the summer season.
Using a reliable composite teak chronology, the researchers then reconstructed the May–October precipitation variations of north-central Myanmar for the past 247 years.
They detected 22 (16) extremely dry (wet) years, indicating that north-central Myanmar is under dry conditions during the monsoon season. The East Indian drought and the Victorian Holocaust drought were also observed.
Moreover, the reconstruction showed high inter-annual fluctuations in monsoon precipitation over the past 247 years.
“Our reconstruction contributes to improving model predictions of regional hydro-climate variability under global climate change,” said Dr. FAN Zexin, principal investigator of the study.
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