A long-term context (931–2005 C.E.) for rapid warming over Central Asia
Warming over Mongolia and Central Asia has been unusually rapid over the past few decades, particularly in the summer, with surface temperature anomalies higher than for much of the globe. With few temperature station records available in this remote region prior to the 1950s, paleoclimatic data must be used to understand annual-to-centennial scale climate variability, local response to large-scale forcing mechanisms, and the significance of major features of the past millennium such as the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and Little Ice Age (LIA) both of which can vary globally. Here we use an extensive collection of living and subfossil wood samples from temperature-sensitive trees to produce a millennial-length, validated reconstruction of summer temperatures for Mongolia and Central Asia from 931 to 2005 CE. This tree-ring reconstruction shows general agreement with the MCA (warming) and LIA (cooling) trends, a significant volcanic signature, and warming in the 20th and 21st Century. Recent warming (2000–2005) exceeds that from any other time and is concurrent with, and likely exacerbated, the impact of extreme drought (1999–2002) that resulted in massive livestock loss across Mongolia.
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- Quaternary Science Reviews