Main content area

A six hundred-year annual minimum temperature history for the central Tibetan Plateau derived from tree-ring width series

He, Minhui, Yang, Bao, Datsenko, Nina M.
Climate dynamics 2014 v.43 no.3-4 pp. 641-655
Juniperus, cold, dendroclimatology, growth rings, ice, models, monsoon season, snow, temperature, trees, variance, China
The recent unprecedented warming found in different regions has aroused much attention in the past years. How temperature has really changed on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) remains unknown since very limited high-resolution temperature series can be found over this region, where large areas of snow and ice exist. Herein, we develop two Juniperus tibetica Kom. tree-ring width chronologies from different elevations. We found that the two tree-ring series only share high-frequency variability. Correlation, response function and partial correlation analysis indicate that prior year annual (January–December) minimum temperature is most responsible for the higher belt juniper radial growth, while more or less precipitation signal is contained by the tree-ring width chronology at the lower belt and is thus excluded from further analysis. The tree growth-climate model accounted for 40 % of the total variance in actual temperature during the common period 1957–2010. The detected temperature signal is further robustly verified by other results. Consequently, a six century long annual minimum temperature history was firstly recovered for the Yushu region, central TP. Interestingly, the rapid warming trend during the past five decades is identified as a significant cold phase in the context of the past 600 years. The recovered temperature series reflects low-frequency variability consistent with other temperature reconstructions over the whole TP region. Furthermore, the present recovered temperature series is associated with the Asian monsoon strength on decadal to multidecadal scales over the past 600 years.