, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 567-579
Date: 19 Oct 2007

Simulation of the evolutionary response of global summer monsoons to orbital forcing over the past 280,000 years

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We describe the evolutionary response of northern and southern hemisphere summer monsoons to orbital forcing over the past 280,000 years using a fully coupled general circulation ocean-atmosphere model in which the orbital forcing is accelerated by a factor of 100. We find a strong and positive response of northern (southern) summer monsoon precipitation to northern (southern) summer insolation forcing. On average, July (January) precipitation maxima and JJA (DJF) precipitation maxima have high coherence and are approximately in phase with June (December) insolation maxima, implying an average lag between forcing and response of about 30° of phase at the precession period. The average lag increases to over 40° for 4-month precipitation averages, JJAS (DJFM). The phase varies from region to region. The average JJA (DJF) land temperature maxima also lag the June orbital forcing maxima by about 30° of phase, whereas ocean temperature maxima exhibit a lag of about 60° of phase at the precession period. Using generalized measures of the thermal and hydrologic processes that produce monsoons, we find that the summer monsoon precipitation indices for the six regions all fall within the phase limits of the process indices for the respective hemispheres. Selected observational studies from four of the six monsoon regions report approximate in-phase relations of summer monsoon proxies to summer insolation. However other observational studies report substantial phase lags of monsoon proxies and a strong component of forcing associated with glacial-age boundary conditions or other factors. An important next step will be to include glacial-age boundary condition forcing in long, transient paleoclimate simulations, along with orbital forcing.