Links between Indo-Pacific climate variability and drought in the Monsoon Asia Drought Atlas

Caroline C. Ummenhofer, Rosanne D. D'Arrigo, Kevin J. Anchukaitis, Brendan M. Buckley, Edward R. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Drought patterns across monsoon and temperate Asia over the period 1877-2005 are linked to Indo-Pacific climate variability associated with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). Using the Monsoon Asia Drought Atlas (MADA) composed of a high-resolution network of hydroclimatically sensitive tree-ring records with a focus on the June-August months, spatial drought patterns during El Niño and IOD events are assessed as to their agreement with an instrumental drought index and consistency in the drought response amongst ENSO/IOD events. Spatial characteristics in drought patterns are related to regional climate anomalies over the Indo-Pacific basin, using reanalysis products, including changes in the Asian monsoon systems, zonal Walker circulation, moisture fluxes, and precipitation. A weakening of the monsoon circulation over the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia during El Niño events, along with anomalous subsidence over monsoon Asia and reduced moisture flux, is reflected in anomalous drought conditions over India, Southeast Asia and Indonesia. When an IOD event co-occurs with an El Niño, severe drought conditions identified in the MADA for Southeast Asia, Indonesia, eastern China and central Asia are associated with a weakened South Asian monsoon, reduced moisture flux over China, and anomalous divergent flow and subsidence over Indonesia. Insights into the relative influences of Pacific and Indian Ocean variability for Asian monsoon climate on interannual to decadal and longer timescales, as recorded in the MADA, provide a useful tool for assessing long-term changes in the characteristics of Asian monsoon droughts in the context of Indo-Pacific climate variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1319-1334
Number of pages16
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian monsoon
  • Climate variability
  • Drought
  • El Niño-Southern Oscillation
  • Indian Ocean dipole
  • Indo-Pacific
  • MADA
  • Tree rings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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