, Volume 40, Issue 11-12, pp 2919-2936,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 23 Oct 2012

Spatial variability of Holocene changes in the annual precipitation pattern: a model-data synthesis for the Asian monsoon region

Abstract

This study provides a detailed analysis of the mid-Holocene to present-day precipitation change in the Asian monsoon region. We compare for the first time results of high resolution climate model simulations with a standardised set of mid-Holocene moisture reconstructions. Changes in the simulated summer monsoon characteristics (onset, withdrawal, length and associated rainfall) and the mechanisms causing the Holocene precipitation changes are investigated. According to the model, most parts of the Indian subcontinent received more precipitation (up to 5 mm/day) at mid-Holocene than at present-day. This is related to a stronger Indian summer monsoon accompanied by an intensified vertically integrated moisture flux convergence. The East Asian monsoon region exhibits local inhomogeneities in the simulated annual precipitation signal. The sign of this signal depends on the balance of decreased pre-monsoon and increased monsoon precipitation at mid-Holocene compared to present-day. Hence, rainfall changes in the East Asian monsoon domain are not solely associated with modifications in the summer monsoon circulation but also depend on changes in the mid-latitudinal westerly wind system that dominates the circulation during the pre-monsoon season. The proxy-based climate reconstructions confirm the regional dissimilarities in the annual precipitation signal and agree well with the model results. Our results highlight the importance of including the pre-monsoon season in climate studies of the Asian monsoon system and point out the complex response of this system to the Holocene insolation forcing. The comparison with a coarse climate model simulation reveals that this complex response can only be resolved in high resolution simulations.