South Asian summer monsoon variability during the last ∼54 kyrs inferred from surface water salinity and river runoff proxies

Gebregiorgis, Daniel, Hathorne, Edmund C., Sijinkumar, A. V., Nath, B. Nagender, Nürnberg, Dirk and Frank, Martin (2016) South Asian summer monsoon variability during the last ∼54 kyrs inferred from surface water salinity and river runoff proxies Quaternary Science Reviews, 138 . pp. 6-15. DOI 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.02.012.

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Supplementary data:



• Ba/Ca and δ18OSW records of Core SK 168 reveal distinct changes in SAM intensity.
• SAM over the Irrawaddy strengthened beginning at ∼18 ka leading observed changes in the Arabian sea by ∼2–3 kyrs.
• Peak monsoon strength during the mid-Holocene in the Andaman Sea consistent with model simulations.
• Changes in upper ocean stratification indicate limited influence of NH insolation.


The past variability of the South Asian Monsoon is mostly known from records of wind strength over the Arabian Sea while high-resolution paleorecords from regions of strong monsoon precipitation are still lacking. Here, we present records of past monsoon variability obtained from sediment core SK 168/GC-1, which was collected at the Alcock Seamount complex in the Andaman Sea. We utilize the ecological habitats of different planktic foraminiferal species to reconstruct freshwater-induced stratification based on paired Mg/Ca and δ18O analyses and to estimate seawater δ18O (δ18Osw). The difference between surface and thermocline temperatures (ΔT) and δ18Osw (Δδ18Osw) is used to investigate changes in upper ocean stratification. Additionally, Ba/Ca in G. sacculifer tests is used as a direct proxy for riverine runoff and sea surface salinity (SSS) changes related to monsoon precipitation on land. Our Δδ18Osw time series reveals that upper ocean salinity stratification did not change significantly throughout the last glacial suggesting little influence of NH insolation changes. The strongest increase in temperature gradients between the mixed layer and the thermocline is recorded for the mid-Holocene and indicate the presence of a significantly shallower thermocline. In line with previous work, the δ18Osw and Ba/Ca records demonstrate that monsoon climate during the LGM was characterized by a significantly weaker southwest monsoon circulation and strongly reduced runoff. Based on our data the South Asian Summer Monsoon (SAM) over the Irrawaddyy strengthened gradually after the LGM beginning at ∼18 ka. This is some 3 kyrs before an increase of the Ba/Ca record from the Arabian Sea and indicates that South Asian Monsoon climate dynamics are more complex than the simple N-S displacement of the ITCZ as generally described for other regions. Minimum δ18Osw values recorded during the mid-Holocene are in phase with Ba/Ca marking a stronger monsoon precipitation, which is consistent with model simulations.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000374369700002
Keywords: South Asian monsoon; Upper ocean stratification; Mixed layer; Thermocline
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-P-OZ Paleo-Oceanography
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.02.012
ISSN: 0277-3791
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2016 10:49
Last Modified: 03 May 2017 09:41

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