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Western Pacific Ocean influences on monsoon precipitation in the southwestern Chinese Loess Plateau since the mid-Holocene


Numerous paleoclimate records on reconstructed monsoon precipitation isotopes (δDp and δ18Op) have been published to infer past hydroclimate changes in Asian monsoon region. However, there are still debates on whether or not these reconstructed δDp or δ18Op can represent changes of monsoon precipitation. In this study, we report a ~ 5000 year record of leafwax hydrogen isotope (δDwax) from a 6.67-m-long sediment core collected in Beilianchi (BLC) Lake in the southwestern Chinese Loess Plateau. Based on analyses of the instrumental precipitation isotopes, precipitation amounts, and moisture sources, we find that δDp in the southwestern Chinese Loess Plateau shows distinct negative correlation with amounts of summer (from April to September) monsoon precipitation at inter-annual scales. This is further supported by the observed negative relation between precipitation amounts and regional lake-sediments and speleothems inferred δDp (or δ18Op) values at decadal scales over the past 60 years. Therefore, our reconstructed ~ 35-year resolution monsoon precipitation, inferred from δDwax, reveals a long-term decrease since the mid-Holocene. Superimposed on this trend, there are several multi-centennial to millennial-scale fluctuations for increased monsoon precipitation at 4500–4000 years BP, 2900–2400 years BP and 1200–700 years BP and decreased precipitation at 3900–3000 years BP, 2200–1300 years BP, and 500–0 years BP. Reanalyses of instrumental data and Kiel Climate Model on regional atmosphere circulations show that moisture of this region is mainly derived from the western Pacific Ocean through the East Asian summer monsoon circulation at inter-annual to inter-decadal, and millennial timescales. We conclude that monsoon rainfall in the southwestern Chinese Loess Plateau is likely connected with changes in sea surface temperatures and migrations of the ITCZ in the western Pacific Ocean.

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We thank G. D. Jia and L. D. Chen for laboratory assistance, and this work was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (#XDA2009000004, XDB40010200), the Program of Global Change and Mitigation (#2016YFA0600502), Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41877293, 41790421, 41771208), and State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, CAS (SKLLQG1936).

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Correspondence to Cheng Zhao.

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Zhang, C., Zhao, C., Yu, Z. et al. Western Pacific Ocean influences on monsoon precipitation in the southwestern Chinese Loess Plateau since the mid-Holocene. Clim Dyn (2020).

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  • Chinese Loess Plateau
  • EASM
  • Paleolimnology
  • Paleoclimate
  • Precipitation isotope
  • Mid-Holocene