Asian Monsoon Variability

The Asian monsoon is caused by seasonal contrasts in the heating of the oceans relative to the land surface, modulated by changes occurring on land (such as the extent of snow cover or vegetation structure) and in the oceans (e.g. the state of the tropical Pacific with respect to El Niño-Southern Oscillation) resulting in seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and rainfall amounts (wet summers and dry winters).

Southeast Asian Monsoon

The large-scale features in atmospheric circulation are well simulated in current climate models, but there are significant errors in the timing of peak rainfall over Indochina as well as in the ability to simulate observed interannual rainfall variability in Southeast Asia. Similarly, the effect of El Niño-Southern Oscillation on rainfall variability in this area is not well understood.

Studying past changes of monsoon variability provides one effective strategy to improve understanding of its behaviour, with attendant implications for resource planning and management. The present and past variability of the South and East Asian monsoon systems has been intensely studied, but the Southeast Asian monsoon is not nearly as well understood. We therefore investigate past variability of the monsoon in Southeast Asia by using high-resolution, absolutely-dated speleothem records from northern Laos in the Indochinese Peninsula.


Dr. Vasile Ersek (Northumbria)

Prof. Gideon Henderson


European Commission

University College, Oxford