The Asian monsoon system affects more than half of humanity worldwide, yet the dynamical processes that govern its complex spatiotemporal variability are not sufficiently understood to model and predict its behavior, due in part to inadequate long-term climate observations. Here we present the Monsoon Asia Drought Atlas (MADA), a seasonally resolved gridded spatial reconstruction of Asian monsoon drought and pluvials over the past millennium, derived from a network of tree-ring chronologies. MADA provides the spatiotemporal details of known historic monsoon failures and reveals the occurrence, severity, and fingerprint of previously unknown monsoon megadroughts and their close linkages to large-scale patterns of tropical Indo-Pacific sea surface temperatures. MADA thus provides a long-term context for recent monsoon variability that is critically needed for climate modeling, prediction, and attribution.
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