Regional drought shifts (1710–2010) in East Central Asia and linkages with atmospheric circulation recorded in tree-ring δ 18 O

Guobao Xu, Xiaohong Liu, Valerie Trouet, Kerstin Treydte, Guoju Wu, Tuo Chen, Weizhen Sun, Wenling An, Wenzhi Wang, Xiaomin Zeng, Dahe Qin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Drought occurrence and duration in central Asia are of important socioeconomic, ecological, and geophysical significance and have received increasing research attention in recent years. Understanding long-term drought trends and their driving forces require reliable records of past drought variability with broad spatial representativeness. Here, we compiled four tree-ring δ 18 O records from eastern central Asia (ECA) and composited them into a drought-sensitive proxy to explore regional ECA moisture variations over the past 301 years (1710–2010 CE). A robust regional standardized precipitation-evapotranspiration index (SPEI) reconstruction was established based on the tree-ring cellulose δ 18 O fractionation mechanism and statistically significant proxy-climate relationships. We identified prominent droughts in 1710–1770, 1810–1830, and the beginning of the twenty-first century, and a regime shift to a persistently wet period from the 1880s to 2000. Our reconstruction reveals the impact of drought and pluvial patterns on the decline of Zhungar Empire, and on historical agricultural and socio-economical activities, including increased migration into ECA during the 1770–1800 pluvial. Our findings also suggest that wet conditions in the twentieth century in ECA were related to a strengthening of the westerly circulation and thus shed light on large-scale atmospheric circulation dynamics in central Asia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-727
Number of pages15
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 24 2019


  • Drought reconstruction
  • Eastern Central Asia
  • SPEI
  • Stable oxygen isotopes
  • Tree rings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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