Holocene variability of East Asian summer monsoon as viewed from the speleothem δ18O records in central China

Yanjun Cai*, Xing Cheng, Le Ma, Ruixue Mao, Sebastian F.M. Breitenbach, Haiwei Zhang, Gang Xue, Hai Cheng, R. Lawrence Edwards, Zhisheng An

*Corresponding author for this work

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Monsoon precipitation in East China shows distinct spatial distribution and its variability is closely linked with the changes of the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM). Located in the transition zone between the southern subtropical humid climate and the northern warm temperate semi-humid climate, central China is a core region for recognizing and understanding the spatio-temporal variability of the EASM. Using U-series dating and stable isotope analysis on five stalagmites (MG-1, MG-2, MG-7, MG-40 and MG-64) from Magou Cave, Henan Province, Central China, we construct a high-resolution and precisely dated composite stalagmite O time series covering most of the Holocene. This composite record reveals variations in precipitation O between 11.7 and 1.1 ka BP with average resolution of ∼4 yrs. The Magou composite record demonstrates that EASM intensity dominates long-term changes in precipitation O, which generally follows the northern hemisphere summer insolation (NHSI) trend. Both, Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition (EEMD) and wavelet filtering analyses real that the amplitudes of long-term (100-500 and 500-3000 yrs) components were slightly reduced between 8.5 and 4.9 ka BP, implying a weakened influence of climatic forcings on centennial and even millennial timescales during this warm period. Variance on 1-30-yr timescales is relatively low and ascribed to sampling resolution. Fourteen weak EASM intervals, including the 8.2 ka event, were identified within the period corresponding broadly with the Holocene Megathermal. Since no cold excursions other than the 8.2 ka event are found in the Greenland ice core records, we tentatively propose that oscillations in tropical sea surface temperature (SST) likely play an important role in steering other weak monsoon events. Aligning the Magou composite record and other moisture records with archaeological records from the study region, it seems that climate change influenced both the spatial distribution and agricultural practices of ancient cultures. However, overall moderate climatic changes in this region, most likely characterized by shifts between subtropical humid climate and warm temperate semi-humid climate, supported a generally consecutive development of ancient cultures without major hiatuses.
Original languageEnglish
Article number116758
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Early online date20 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2021


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