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Strong link between large tropical volcanic eruptions and severe droughts prior to monsoon in the central Himalayas revealed by tree-ring records

Journal article
Authors E. Y. Liang
B. Dawadi
N. Pederson
S. L. Piao
H. F. Zhu
S. R. Sigdel
Deliang Chen
Published in Science Bulletin
Volume 64
Issue 14
Pages 1018-1023
ISSN 2095-9273
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 1018-1023
Language en
Keywords Tree ring, Drought, Tropical volcanic eruptions, Central Himalayas, precipitation variation, nepal himalaya, climate, temperature, moisture, ocean, reconstruction, xylogenesis, growth, variability, Science & Technology - Other Topics
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


Large tropical volcanic eruptions can cause short-term global cooling. However, little is known whether large tropical volcanic eruptions, like the one in Tambora/Indonesia in 1815, cause regional hydroclimatic anomalies. Using a tree-ring network of precisely dated Himalayan birch in the central Himalayas, we reconstructed variations in the regional pre-monsoon precipitation back to 1650 CE. A superposed epoch analysis indicates that the pre-monsoon regional droughts are associated with large tropical volcanic eruptions, appearing to have a strong influence on hydroclimatic conditions in the central Himalayas. In fact, the most severe drought since 1650 CE occurred after the Tambora eruption. These results suggest that dry conditions prior to monsoon in the central Himalayas were associated with explosive tropical volcanism. Prolonged La Nina events also correspond with persistent pre-monsoon droughts in the central Himalayas. Our results provide evidence that large tropical volcanic eruptions most likely induced severe droughts prior to monsoon in the central Himalayas. (C) 2019 Science China Press. Published by Elsevier B.V. and Science China Press. All rights reserved.

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