A detailed East Asian monsoon history surrounding the 'Mystery Interval' derived from three Chinese speleothem records

Weihong Zhang, Jiangying Wu, Yi Wang, Yongjin Wang, Hai Cheng, Xinggong Kong, Fucai Duan

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38 Scopus citations


The 'Mystery Interval' (MI, 17.5-14.5ka) was the first stage of the last deglaciation, a key interval for understanding mechanisms of glacial-interglacial cycles. To elucidate possible causes of the MI, here we present three high-resolution, precisely dated oxygen-isotope records of stalagmites from Qingtian and Hulu Caves in China, reflecting changes in the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) then. Based on well-established chronologies using precise 230Th dates and annual-band counting results, the two-cave δ18O profiles of ~7-yr resolution match well at decadal timescales. Both of the two-cave records document an abrupt weakening (2‰ of δ18O rise within 20yr) in the EASM at ~16.1ka, coinciding with the transition of the two-phased MI reconstructed from New Mexico's Lake Estancia. Our results indicate that the maximum southward displacement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and associated southward shift of polar jet stream may generate this two-phase feature of the MI during that time. We also discover a linear relationship among decreasing EASM intensity, rising atmospheric CO2 and weakening Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation between the MI and Younger Dryas episodes, suggesting a strong coupling of atmospheric/oceanic circulations in response to the millennial-scale forcing, which in turn regulates global climate changes and carbon cycles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-163
Number of pages10
JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Dr. Bruce D. Allen and editors (Drs. Alan Gillespie and Jay Quade) for their thorough reviews, constructive suggestions and comments on an early version of the manuscript. Thanks are also given to an anonymous reviewer for his/her critical and instructive comments. This work was supported by grants of National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 40972111 and 41130210 ), and Research and Innovation Project for College Graduates of Jiangsu Province ( CXZZ13_0408 ).


  • Asian monsoon
  • China
  • Decadal climate change
  • Mystery Interval
  • Stalagmite


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