Climate as a contributing factor in the demise of Angkor, Cambodia

LDEO Publication: 
Publication Type  Journal Article
Year of Publication  2010
Authors  Buckley, B.M.; Anchukaitis, K.J; Penny, D.; Fletcher, R; Cook, E.R.; Sano, M.; Nam, L.C; Wichienkeeo, A.; Minh, T.T.; Hong, T.M.
Journal Title  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume  107
Issue  15
Pages  6748-6752
LDEO Publication Number  7336
Key Words  tree-rings; collapse, dendrochronology, paleoclimate, El Niño-Southern Oscillation, Palmer Drought Severity Index;

The “hydraulic city” of Angkor, the capitol of the Khmer Empire in
Cambodia, experienced decades-long drought interspersed with
intense monsoons in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that,
in combination with other factors, contributed to its eventual demise.
The climatic evidence comes from a seven-and-a-half century
robust hydroclimate reconstruction from tropical southern Vietnamese
tree rings. The Angkor droughts were of a duration and
severity that would have impacted the sprawling city’s water supply
and agricultural productivity, while high-magnitude monsoon
years damaged its water control infrastructure. Hydroclimate
variability for this region is strongly and inversely correlated with
tropical Pacific sea surface temperature, indicating that a warm Pacific
and El Niño events induce drought at interannual and interdecadal
time scales, and that low-frequency variations of tropical
Pacific climate can exert significant influence over Southeast Asian
climate and society.

DOI  doi/10.1073/pnas.0910827107