Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 56, Issue 23, pp 2464–2474 | Cite as

Humid medieval warm period recorded by magnetic characteristics of sediments from Gonghai Lake, Shanxi, North China

  • JianBao Liu
  • FaHu Chen
  • JianHui Chen
  • DunSheng Xia
  • QingHai Xu
  • ZongLi Wang
  • YueCong Li
Open Access
Article Geography


Variations in monsoon strength, moisture or precipitation in eastern China during the MWP reflected by different climatic records have shown apparent discrepancies. Here, detailed environmental magnetic investigations and mineralogical analyses were conducted on lacustrine sediments of Core GH09B1 (2.8 m long) from Gonghai Lake, Shanxi, North China, concerning the monsoon history during the MWP. The results demonstrate that the main magnetic mineral is magnetite. The sediments with relatively high magnetic mineral concentrations were characterized by relatively fine magnetic grain sizes, which were formed in a period of relatively strong pedogenesis and high precipitation. In contrast, the sediments with low magnetic mineral concentrations reflected an opposite process. The variations of magnetic parameters in Gonghai Lake sediments were mainly controlled by the degree of pedogenesis in the lake drainage basin, which further indicated the strength of the Asian summer monsoon. The variations in the χ and S −300 parameters of the core clearly reveal the Asian summer monsoon history over the last 1200 years in the study area, suggesting generally abundant precipitation and a strong summer monsoon during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP, AD 910–1220), which is supported by pollen evidence. Furthermore, this 3–6-year resolution environmental magnetic record indicates a dry event around AD 980–1050, interrupting the generally humid MWP. The summer monsoon evolution over the last millennium recorded by magnetic parameters in sediments from Gonghai Lake correlates well with historical documentation (North China) and speleothem oxygen isotopes (Wanxiang Cave), as well as precipitation modeling results (extratropical East Asia), which all indicate a generally humid MWP within which centennial-scale moisture variability existed. It is thus demonstrated that environmental magnetic parameters could be used as an effective proxy for monsoon climate variations in high-resolution lacustrine sediments.


Gonghai Lake lacustrine sediments magnetic parameter Medieval Warm Period humid climate 


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© The Author(s) 2011

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • JianBao Liu
    • 1
  • FaHu Chen
    • 1
  • JianHui Chen
    • 1
  • DunSheng Xia
    • 1
  • QingHai Xu
    • 2
  • ZongLi Wang
    • 1
  • YueCong Li
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental System (Ministry of Education)Lanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina
  2. 2.College of Resources and EnvironmentHebei Normal UniversityShijiazhuangChina

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