Coherent streamflow variability in Monsoon Asia over the past eight centuries—links to oceanic drivers

Nguyen, Hung T. T.; Turner, Sean W. D.; Buckley, Brendan M.; Galelli, Stefano

Ten of the world's biggest rivers are located entirely within the Asian Monsoon region. They provide water, energy, and food for 1.7 billion people. To manage these critical resources, we need a better understanding of river discharge—how does it change over a long time? Are there common variation patterns among rivers? To answer these questions, we use information derived from tree rings to reconstruct average annual river discharge history at 62 gauges in 16 Asian countries. Our reconstruction reveals the riparian footprint of megadroughts and large volcanic eruptions over the past eight centuries. We show that simultaneous droughts and pluvials have often occurred at adjacent river basins in the past, because Asian rivers share common influences from the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. We also show how these oceanic teleconnections change over space and time. Our findings can inform big decisions made on water-dependent infrastructure, thus benefiting the riparian people of the Asian Monsoon region.

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Water Resources Research

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