Increasing aridity over the past 223 years in the Nepal Himalaya inferred from a tree-ring δ18O chronology

Masaki Sano*, R. Ramesh, MS Sheshshayee, R. Sukumar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Citations (Scopus)


A tree-ring δ18O chronology of Abies spectabilis from the Nepal Himalaya was established to study hydroclimate in the summer monsoon season over the past 223 years (ad 1778-2000). Response function analysis with ambient climatic records revealed that tree-ring δ18O was primarily controlled by the amount of precipitation and relative humidity during the monsoon season (June-September). Since tree-ring δ18O was simultaneously correlated with temperature, drought history in the monsoon season was reconstructed by calibrating against the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). Our reconstruction that accounts for 33.7% of the PDSI variance shows a decreasing trend of precipitation/moisture over the past two centuries, and reduction of monsoon activity can be found across different proxy records from the Himalaya and Tibet. Spatial correlation analysis with global sea surface temperatures suggests that the tropical oceans play a role in modulating hydroclimate in the Nepal Himalaya. Although the dynamic mechanisms of the weakening trend of monsoon intensity still remain to be analyzed, rising sea surface temperatures over the tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean could be responsible for the reduction of summer monsoon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-817
Number of pages9
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jul
Externally publishedYes


  • Nepal
  • Palmer Drought Severity Index
  • climate reconstruction
  • dendrochronology
  • oxygen isotope ratios
  • summer monsoon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


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