Centennial- to decadal-scale monsoon precipitation variations in the upper Hanjiang River region, China over the past 6650 years

Liangcheng Tan, Yanjun Cai, Hai Cheng, Lawrence R. Edwards, Yongli Gao, Hai Xu, Haiwei Zhang, Zhisheng An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


The upper Hanjiang River region is the recharge area of the middle route of South-to-North Water Transfer Project. The region is under construction of the Hanjiang-Weihe River Water Transfer Project in China. Monsoon precipitation variations in this region are critical to water resource and security of China. In this study, high-resolution monsoon precipitation variations were reconstructed in the upper Hanjiang River region over the past 6650 years from δ18O and δ13C records of four stalagmites in Xianglong cave. The long term increasing trend of stalagmite δ18O record since the middle Holocene is consistent with other speleothem records from monsoonal China. This trend follows the gradually decreasing Northern Hemisphere summer insolation, which indicates that solar insolation may control the orbital-scale East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) variations. Despite the declined EASM intensity since the middle Holocene, local precipitation may not have decreased remarkably, as revealed by the δ13C records. A series of centennial- to decadal-scale cyclicity was observed, with quasi-millennium-, quasi-century-, 57-, 36- and 22-year cycles by removing the long-term trend of stalagmite δ18O record. Increased monsoon precipitation during periods of 4390–3800 a BP, 3590–2960 a BP, 2050–1670 a BP and 1110–790 a BP had caused four super-floods in the upper reach of Hanjiang River. Dramatically dry climate existed in this region during the 5.0 ka and 2.8 ka events, coinciding with notable droughts in other regions of monsoonal China. Remarkably intensified and southward Westerly jet, together with weakened summer monsoon, may delay the onset of rainy seasons, resulting in synchronous decreasing of monsoon precipitation in China during the two events. During the 4.2 ka event and the Little Ice Age, the upper Hanjiang River region was wet, which was similar to the climate conditions in central and southern China, but was the opposite of drought observed in northern China. We propose that weakened summer monsoon and less strengthened or normal Westerly jet may cause rain belt stay longer in the southward region, which reduced rainfall in northern China but enhanced it in central and southern China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-590
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Jan 15 2018


  • Hanjiang River
  • Holocene
  • Monsoon precipitation
  • abrupt events
  • stalagmite

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