High resolution monsoon precipitation changes on southeastern Tibetan Plateau over the past 2300 years

Liangcheng Tan, Yanjun Cai, Hai Cheng, Lawrence R. Edwards, Jianghu Lan, Haiwei Zhang, Dong Li, Le Ma, Peipei Zhao, Yongli Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Climate changes on Southeastern Tibetan Plateau have important impacts on social and economic development, as well as the ecosystem of southwestern China and Indo-China Peninsula. Here, we collected two stalagmites from Shenqi (Miraculous) cave in southern Sichuan, China. The stalagmite δ18O record shows good coherence with local instrumental rainfall record, as well as tree ring- and pollen-based moisture reconstructions from southeastern Tibetan Plateau during overlapped time periods. As a result, we reconstructed high-resolution (∼4.9 yrs) monsoon precipitation variations on southeastern Tibetan Plateau over the past 2300 years by using the combined stalagmite δ18O record. The result reveals an overall decreasing precipitation trend, with two most notable wet periods occurred in 60–280 AD and 370–510 AD. The most remarkably dry period is the recent 200 years. Some decadal scale wet and dry intervals were also identified. The abnormal drought during 1160–1245 AD might have accelerated Dali kingdom's demise at 1253 AD. Power spectrum analysis indicated significant 373-, 187-, 22-, 12- and 11- yr cycles in our stalagmite record, suggesting the impact of solar activity. Increased monsoon precipitation on southeastern TP was observed in solar activity minima during the last millennium. We further synthesized an integrated precipitation record for southwestern China and discussed spatial patterns of precipitation over China during the last two millennia. The comparisons confirm a “dry southern and wet northern” pattern in monsoonal China during the Medieval Warm Period and a “wet southern and dry northern” pattern during the Little Ice Age and Dark Age Cold Period. Solar activity, the strength of westerly jet and summer monsoon, as well as the SST of tropical Indo-Pacific might play important roles on the rainfall spatial patterns over monsoonal China during the last 2000 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-132
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • Monsoon precipitation
  • Southwestern China
  • Spatial pattern
  • Stalagmite
  • Tibetan plateau


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