On the spatial and temporal variability of ENSO precipitation and drought teleconnection in mainland Southeast Asia

Räsänen, T. A.; Lindgren, V.; Guillaume, J. H. A.; Buckley, Brendan M.; Kummu, M.

The variability in the hydroclimate over mainland Southeast Asia is strongly influenced by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, which has been linked to severe drought and floods that profoundly influence human societies and ecosystems alike. However, the spatial characteristics and long-term stationarity of ENSO's influence in the region are not well understood. We thus aim to analyse seasonal evolution and spatial variations in the effect of ENSO on precipitation over the period of 1980–2013, and long-term variation in the ENSO-teleconnection using tree-ring derived Palmer Drought Severity Indices (PDSI) that span from 1650–2004. We found that the majority of the study area is under the influence of ENSO, which has affected the region's hydroclimate over the majority (96 %) of the 355 year study period. Our results further indicate that there is a pattern of seasonal evolution of precipitation anomalies during ENSO. However, considerable variability in the ENSO's influence is revealed: the strength of ENSO's influence was found to vary in time and space, and the different ENSO events resulted in varying precipitation anomalies. Additional research is needed to investigate how this variation in ENSO teleconnection is influenced by other factors, such as the properties of the ENSO events and other ocean and atmospheric phenomena. In general, the high variability we found in ENSO teleconnection combined with limitations of current knowledge, suggests that the adaptation to extremes in hydroclimate in mainland Southeast Asia needs to go beyond "predict-and-control" and recognise both uncertainty and complexity as fundamental principles.


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