Predicting the Asian Monsoon

25 April 2010


Researchers this week have presented, for the first time, a record of Asian Monsoon data stretching over 700 years. The Asian Monsoon affects nearly five billion people each year but it involves a huge weather system and it's very hard to predict how it will change each year. Until now, there's been very little climate data available on the monsoon.

Monsoon cloudsEdward Cook and colleagues from Columbia University have measured tree ring data from over 300 locations and they've compiled it into what they call the 'Monsoon Data Drought Atlas,' or MADA. Published in the journal Science, they've been able to reconstruct how the monsoon varied from the end of the Medieval Warm Period, through the Little Ice Age (where Louis XIV's wine supposedly froze on his table) and during the more recent period of human-induced climate change.

The researchers plan to compare this record with others available so they could, for example, see how sea surface temperatures alter the monsoons. And occasionally, the monsoon fails completely - leading to droughts which destroy crops and cause all sorts of species devastation so finding the reasons for these events could help in their prediction in the near future.


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