The mechanism of general flowering in Dipterocarpaceae in the Malay Peninsula is revealed through field survey and meteorological data analyses. The regions of general flowering coincide with those which experienced a low night-time temperature (LNT) c. 2 mo before flowering. This supports the hypothesis that low air temperature induces the development of floral buds of dipterocarps. LNT was found to be caused by radiative cooling during dry spells in winter when the northern subtropical ridge (STR) occasionally migrates southwards with a dry air mass into the equatorial region. LNT events usually occur in La Niña episodes, not in El Niño episodes as believed previously. This is because the southward migration of the STR is associated with the intensification of local meridional Hadley Circulation in the western Pacific, which is strengthened in a La Niña episode. Results suggest that El Niño-like climate change in increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations may be critical for the tropical rain forest biome in south-east Asia.
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