Climate Variability in the Greater Mekong River Basin: paleo proxies, instrumental data, historical records and model projections

16.02 - 18.02.2009
Dalat, Vietnam
Contact person:
Brendan Buckley


The Greater Mekong River Basin (GMB) constitutes one of the most important river systems in the world. Recent damming in the rivers upper reaches is directly impacting the amount and quality of the water available in the countries through which the Mekong subsequently flows: Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Future climate projections paint an uncertain future for the region, highlighting the need for understanding the role of natural climate variability.

Recent tree ring research from the region suggests that 18th century €œ"megadroughts"€ may have extended from Myanmar to Vietnam. Protracted drought is also suggested for the late 14th and early 15th centuries, coinciding with the timing of the demise of the great Ankgor civilization in present-day Cambodia. Trees have been sampled from north and central Vietnam that span much of the past 1,000 years, and may lead to proxy rainfall records extending through the Medieval Climate Anomaly period. Speleothem research in North Vietnam suggests periods of extreme aridity over the past 5,000 years that persisted for several decades. Ocean sediment research in the East Asian Monsoon region rounds out a longer-term perspective on how this regions climate may have varied throughout the Holocene.

Additionally, historical documentation, the archaeological record and forest ecological context will be presented and explored. This background will serve as the basis for understanding the natural variability in the regional climate that can be used for validation of model experiments, forming the basis of talks by several speakers.


Mekong River, climate change, paleoclimatology, climate modeling, mega-droughts and teleconnections, ENSO, Asian Monsoon, tree rings, speleothems, historical records, tropical forest ecology


Holocene, with focus on the past 1,000 years

Post-meeting report

Tree Rings Tell of Angkor's Dying Days
Richard Stone (2009) Science 323(5917): 999