Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Climate, Volume 26; DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00099.1


Copyright 2013 American Meteorological Society


The authors reconstructed May–September precipitation over the Asian continent (5°–55°N, 60°–135°E) back to AD 1470 on the basis of tree-ring data, historical documentary records, ice core records, and the few long-term instrumental data series available in the region. They employed the method of Regularized Expectation Maximization (RegEM) and applied it to 44 subregions within the continent. Verification exercises demonstrate that the reconstruction is skillful over most of the study domain, with eastern China, India, and other regions of humid climate displaying the greatest skill. Lower reconstruction skill is observed in semiarid and arid regions, which was attributable at least in part to the scarcity of observations available for calibration/ validation. The precipitation reconstructions agree well with previous reconstructions, where they are available. The explanatory value of the reconstruction is illustrated using five historically documented severe droughts in north-central China during the past half millennium. The reconstructions both validate and provide a larger-scale context for understanding these past climate events and their relationship with the Asian summer monsoons.