Little Ice Age climate changes in Southwest China from a stalagmite δ18O record

Ting Yong Li, Si Ya Xiao, Chuan Chou Shen, Jian Zhang, Chao Jun Chen, Hai Cheng, Christoph Spötl, Ran Huang, Tao Wang, Jun Yun Li, Yao Wu, Zi Qi Liu, R. Lawrence Edwards, Tsai Luen Yu

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12 Scopus citations


Climate change during the Little Ice Age (LIA) was characterized by globally widespread but spatiotemporally incoherent cooling with high regional variability. However, the onset, termination, internal structure, and underlying forcing mechanisms of the LIA remain unclear. Here we present a U-Th-dated stalagmite record with an average sampling resolution of 0.8 years and mean age uncertainty less than 4 years from Shijiangjun Cave, Southwest China (SW China). We have characterized the dynamics of the Asian summer monsoon (ASM) on interdecadal to centennial timescales during the LIA at unprecedented accuracy and precision. The onset of the LIA occurred at about 1300 (A.D.) and six weak-ASM events were identified at 1340–1380, 1445–1480, 1520–1540, 1600–1630, 1650–1670, and 1695–1730 (A.D.), respectively. The overall climate variability in Chinese monsoon regions is inconsistent with that in Northwest China (NW China). During the coldest period of the LIA (i.e. after 1500 CE), SW China exhibited a cold and dry pattern, while NW China experienced a cold and wet climate. Moreover, our records from the Asian-Australian monsoon (AAM) region showed coherent changes during the LIA, arguing against the interhemispheric “see-saw” model on interdecadal-centennial timescales. Documented solar minima, lower Northern Hemisphere temperature, and positive phases of PDO and ENSO during the LIA weakened the Asian-Australian summer monsoon, decreasing precipitation throughout the AAM regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110167
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
StatePublished - Jan 15 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, No. 41772170 ; 42011530078 ), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities , China (No. XDJK2017A010 and No. XDJK2020D005 ) to T.-Y. Li.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Atmospheric circulations
  • Ocean circulation
  • Solar radiation
  • Summer monsoon
  • “See-saw” model


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