Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2022, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (2): 214-224.doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1943-3

• Special Issue: Climate Change and Its Regional Response • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Tree-ring-based drought variability in northern China over the past three centuries

ZENG Xueli1,2(), LIU Yu1,3,4,5,*(), SONG Huiming1,3, LI Qiang1,3, CAI Qiufang1,3,5, FANG Congxi1, SUN Changfeng1,3, REN Meng1,6   

  1. 1. The State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, CAS, Xi'an 710061, China
    2. University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. CAS Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global Change, CAS, Xi'an 710061, China
    4. Laboratory for Ocean Dynamics and Climate, Pilot Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266237, Shandong, China
    5. School of Human Settlements and Civil Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an 710049, China
    6. Xi'an Institute for Innovative Earth Environment Research, Xi'an 710061, China
  • Received:2021-06-04 Accepted:2021-09-17 Online:2022-02-25 Published:2022-04-25
  • Contact: LIU Yu;
  • About author:Zeng Xueli (1995-), PhD Candidate, E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    The Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDB40000000);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41630531);State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, CAS(SKLLQG2041)


Droughts are the most frequent natural disaster in regions at the margins of the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM), which pose threats to agriculture, the economy, and human lives. However, the limitations of only approximately 60 years of meteorological observations hamper our understanding of the characteristics and mechanisms of local hydroclimate. Trees growing in the marginal region of the EASM are usually sensitive to moisture variations and have played important roles in past hydroclimatic reconstructions. Here, a 303-year tree-ring-width chronology of Pinus tabulaeformis from Mt. Lama, which is located in the junction of the Liaoning Province and Inner Mongolia, China, was used to reconstruct the May-August Palmer drought severity index (PDSI) in the marginal region of the EASM. The transfer function explains 48.0% (or 47.2% after adjusting for the loss of the degrees of freedom) of the variance over the calibration period from 1946 to 2012. A spatial correlation analysis demonstrates that our PDSI reconstruction can represent the drought variability on the northernmost margin of the EASM. The winter Asian polar vortex area index showed a delayed impact on the summer EASM precipitation in the following year.

Key words: tree-ring width, Mt. Lama, PDSI, East Asian summer monsoon, Asian polar vortex area index