Antarctic link with East Asian summer monsoon variability during the Heinrich Stadial–Bølling interstadial transition

Hongbin Zhang, Michael L. Griffiths, Junhua Huang, Yanjun Cai, Canfa Wang, Fan Zhang, Hai Cheng, Youfeng Ning, Chaoyong Hu, Shucheng Xie

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Previous research has shown a strong persistence for direct teleconnections between the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) and high northern latitude climate variability during the last glacial and deglaciation, in particular between monsoon weakening and a reduced Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). However, less attention has been paid to EASM strengthening as the AMOC was reinvigorated following peak Northern Hemisphere (NH) cooling. Moreover, climate model simulations have suggested a strong role for Antarctic meltwater discharge in modulating northward heat transport and hence NH warming, yet the degree to which Southern Hemisphere (SH) climate anomalies impacted the Asian monsoon region is still unclear. Here we present a new stalagmite oxygen-isotope record from the EASM affected region of central China, which documents two prominent stages of increased 18O-depleted moisture delivery to the region through the transition from Heinrich Stadial 1 (HS1) to the Bølling–Allerød (B–A) interstadial; this is in general agreement with the other monsoonal records from both NH and SH mid to low latitudes. Through novel comparisons with a recent iceberg-rafted debris (IRD) record from the Southern Ocean, we propose that the two-stage EASM intensification observed in our speleothem records were linked with two massive Antarctic icesheet discharge (AID) events at ∼16.0 ka and ∼14.7 ka, immediately following the peak HS1 stadial event. Notably, the large increase in EASM intensity at the beginning of the HS1/B–A transition (∼16 ka) is relatively muted in the NH higher latitudes, and better aligns with the changes observed in the SH, indicating the Antarctic and Southern Ocean perturbations could have an active role in driving the initial EASM strengthening at this time. Indeed, Antarctic freshwater input to the Southern Ocean during these AID events would have cooled the surrounding surface waters and caused an expansion of sea ice, restricting the southern extent of the SH westerlies. Moreover, increased meltwater flux during IRD events would have freshened Antarctic Intermediate Water, leading to the increased formation of North Atlantic Deep Water and enhanced North Atlantic subsurface heat release, and causing a strengthening of the AMOC during the HS1-Bølling transition. The result of this sequence-of-events would have been warming in the North Atlantic whilst at the same time cooling in the Antarctic. The ensuing interhemispheric temperature gradient would have acted to push the ITCZ northward, weakening the Australian–Indonesian summer monsoon (AISM) whilst intensifying the EASM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-251
Number of pages9
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful for Prof. Ian Fairchild for his elaborating work and scientific suggestions on an early version of the manuscript. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 41130207 ), the Key R&D Project of Ministry of Science and Technology (grant no. 2016YFA0601100 ), the 111 Program ( National Bureau for Foreign Experts and Ministry of Education of China , grant no. B08030 ). We thank two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments that greatly improved the overall quality of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Antarctic
  • Asian monsoon
  • last deglaciation
  • speleothem


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