Knowledge of spatial and temporal hydroclimatic differences is critical in understanding climatic mechanisms. Here we show striking hydroclimatic contrasts between northern and southern parts of the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau (ETP), and those between East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) and Indian summer monsoon (ISM) areas during the past ~2,000 years. During the Medieval Period, and the last 100 to 200 years, the southern ETP (S-ETP) area was generally dry (on average), while the northern ETP (N-ETP) area was wet. During the Little Ice Age (LIA), hydroclimate over S-ETP areas was wet, while that over N-ETP area was dry (on average). Such hydroclimatic contrasts can be broadly extended to ISM and EASM areas. We contend that changes in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of the tropical Pacific Ocean could have played important roles in producing these hydroclimatic contrasts, by forcing the north-south movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and intensification/slowdown of Walker circulation. The results of sensitivity experiments also support such a proposition.

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Published in Scientific Reports, v. 6, article no. 33177, p. 1-9.

© The Author(s) 2016

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This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos 41473120 and 41672169) and the National Basic Research Program of China (No. 2013CB955903).

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