Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Research article
24 Jun 2014
Research article |  | 24 Jun 2014

Stalagmite-inferred variability of the Asian summer monsoon during the penultimate glacial–interglacial period

T.-Y. Li, C.-C. Shen, L.-J. Huang, X.-Y. Jiang, X.-L. Yang, H.-S. Mii, S.-Y. Lee, and L. Lo

Abstract. The orbital-timescale dynamics of the Quaternary Asian summer monsoons (ASM) are frequently attributed to precession-dominated northern hemispheric summer insolation. However, this long-term continuous ASM variability is inferred primarily from oxygen isotope records of stalagmites, mainly from Sanbao cave in mainland China, and may not provide a comprehensive picture of ASM evolution. A new spliced stalagmite oxygen isotope record from Yangkou cave tracks summer monsoon precipitation variation from 124 to 206 thousand years ago in Chongqing, southwest China. Our Yangkou record supports that the evolution of ASM was dominated by the North Hemisphere solar insolation on orbital timescales. When superimposed on the Sanbao record, the precipitation time series referred from Yangkou cave stalagmites supports the strong ASM periods at marine isotope stages (MIS) 6.3, 6.5, and 7.1 and weak ASM intervals at MIS 6.2, 6.4, and 7.0. This consistency confirms that ASM events affected most of mainland China. Except for the solar insolation forcing, the large amplitude of minimum δ18O values in Yangkou record during glacial period, such as MIS 6.5, could stem from the enhanced prevailing Pacific trade wind and/or continental shelf exposure in the Indo–Pacific warm pool.