The Global Paleomonsoon as seen through speleothem records from Asia and the Americas

Hai Cheng, Ashish Sinha, Xianfeng Wang, Francisco W. Cruz, R. Lawrence Edwards

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313 Scopus citations


The regional monsoons of the world have long been viewed as seasonal atmospheric circulation reversal-analogous to a thermally-driven land-sea breeze on a continental scale. This conventional view of monsoons is now being integrated at a global scale and accordingly, a new paradigm has emerged which considers regional monsoons to be manifestations of global-scale seasonal changes in response to overturning of atmospheric circulation in the tropics and subtropics, and henceforth, interactive components of a singular Global Monsoon (GM) system. The paleoclimate community, however, tends to view 'paleomonsoon' (PM), largely in terms of regional circulation phenomena. In the past decade, many high-quality speleothem oxygen isotope (δ18O) records have been established from the Asian Monsoon and the South American Monsoon regions that primarily reflect changes in the integrated intensities of monsoons on orbital-to-decadal timescales. With the emergence of these high-resolution and absolute-dated records from both sides of the Equator, it is now possible to test a concept of the 'Global-Paleo-Monsoon' (GPM) on a wide-range of timescales. Here we present a comprehensive synthesis of globally-distributed speleothem δ18O records and highlight three aspects of the GPM that are comparable to the modern GM: (1) the GPM intensity swings on different timescales; (2) their global extent; and (3) an anti-phased inter-hemispheric relationship between the Asian and South American monsoon systems on a wide range of timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1045-1062
Number of pages18
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank P.X. Wang for his support of our work. This work was jointly supported by NSFC 41140016, Xi’an Jiaotong University grant 93K40208000004, Institute of Earth Environment, CAS grant SKLLQG1001, and US NSF grants 1103403 and 0908792.


  • Asian Monsoon
  • Global Paleomonsoon
  • South American Monsoon
  • Speleothem
  • δO record


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