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A new regional, mid-Holocene palaeoprecipitation signal of the Asian Summer Monsoon

Strong, D.; Flecker, R.; Valdes, P.J.; Wilkinson, I.P.; Rees, J.G.; Michaelides, K.; Zong, Y.; Lloyd, J.M.; Yu, F.; Pancost, R.D.

A new regional, mid-Holocene palaeoprecipitation signal of the Asian Summer Monsoon Thumbnail


D. Strong

R. Flecker

P.J. Valdes

I.P. Wilkinson

J.G. Rees

K. Michaelides

Y. Zong

F. Yu

R.D. Pancost


The Dongge Cave speleothem δ18O record, which lies in the Pearl River basin (China), has been interpreted as recording a regional decline in Asian Summer Monsoon precipitation over the last 6.5 ka. The same overall trend is seen in the bulk sedimentary organic δ13Corg record from a core in the Pearl River Estuary. However, the two records differ in detail and the regional nature of the Dongge palaeoprecipitation signal has therefore been questioned. Our study re-evaluates both records by constructing, for the same estuarine core, biomarker and compound-specific δ13C records, which have better constrained terrestrial and marine end members than δ13Corg, providing additional insights into the evolution of the Asian Summer Monsoon. The Branched Isoprenoidal Tetraether (BIT) index reflects the ratio of soil versus marine organic matter. The BIT record from the estuarine core co-varies with the Dongge Cave δ18O record suggesting the two share a common control which is likely to be driven by regional climate. By contrast, the sterols, n-alcohols and n-fatty acid ratios show the same overall trend as Dongge, but parallel the δ13Corg record's variability between 6.5 and 2 ka indicating a partial decoupling between soil and land-plant organic matter fluxes in the Pearl River Basin. There is clear divergence between the biomarker and 13Corg records from 2 ka to present. Analysis of the leaf wax δ13C suggests that this results from an abrupt change in vegetation probably resulting from local, anthropogenic cultivation two thousand years ago. The basin scale of these estuarine records equates to up to 15 grid cells in typical Earth System Models used for simulating global climate. This permits comparison of Palaeoclimate Model Intercomparison Project simulations of the mid-Holocene with spatially equivalent data relating to the Summer Asian Monsoon, for the first time.


Strong, D., Flecker, R., Valdes, P., Wilkinson, I., Rees, J., Michaelides, K., …Pancost, R. (2013). A new regional, mid-Holocene palaeoprecipitation signal of the Asian Summer Monsoon. Quaternary Science Reviews, 78, 65-76.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2013
Deposit Date Sep 20, 2013
Publicly Available Date Dec 22, 2013
Journal Quaternary Science Reviews
Print ISSN 0277-3791
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 78
Pages 65-76


Accepted Journal Article (1.1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Quaternary science reviews. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Quaternary science reviews, 78, 2013, 10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.07.034

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