Discrete seasonal hydroclimate reconstructions over northern Vietnam for the past three and a half centuries
We present a 350-year hydroclimatic year (HY) index for northern Vietnam derived from three discrete seasonal reconstructions from tree rings: an index of autumn rainfall from the earlywood widths of Chinese Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga sinensis), the first such record from this species, and two nearby published Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) reconstructions from cypress (Fokienia hodginsii) tree rings for spring and summer, respectively. Autumn rainfall over the study region constitutes only around 9% of the annual total, but its variability is strongly linked to the strength of the atmospheric gradient over Asia during the transition from the boreal summer to winter monsoons. Deficit or surplus of autumn rainfall enhances or mitigates, respectively, the impact of the annual winter dry season on trees growing on porous karst hillsides. The most protracted HY drought (dry across all seasons) occurred at the turn of the twentieth century at a time of relative quiet, but a mid-to-late eighteenth century multi-year HY drought coincided with a period of great societal turmoil across mainland Southeast Asia and the Tay Son Rebellion in northern Vietnam. A mid-nineteenth century uprising accompanied by a smallpox epidemic, crop failure and famine, occurred during the worst autumn drought of the past two and a half centuries but only moderate drought in spring and summer. The “Great Vietnamese Famine” of the mid-twentieth century was dry only in autumn, with a wet spring and an average summer.
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