The seasonality of east central North American precipitation based on three coeval Holocene speleothems from southern West Virginia

Ben Hardt, Harold D. Rowe, Gregory S. Springer, Hai Cheng, R. Lawrence Edwards

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35 Scopus citations


We present a replicated record of Holocene climate change from a cave in West Virginia, USA. Based on analysis of stable isotopes in precipitation (δ18Ow) from the closest Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation (GNIP) station in Coshocton, OH, we interpret enriched oxygen isotopes in calcite (δ18Oc) as representing an increase in the relative contribution of summer precipitation to annual totals. Significant coherence between local summer (July and August) precipitation and the Summer North Atlantic Oscillation (SNAO) index on multi-decadal timescales suggests that summer precipitation in our study area is strongly influenced by changes in the Bermuda High. A strengthened Bermuda High circulation would increase summer precipitation amounts in the region and lead to enriched δ18Oc of speleothem calcite. Our δ18Oc record achieves maximum values during the mid-Holocene, consistent with previous studies indicating an intensified Bermuda High circulation at that time. At 4.2ka, δ18Oc transitions to lower values at a time when numerous records around the globe document significant changes in the hydrologic budget. Over the last 2000years, there are intervals of substantially decreased δ18Oc, coincident with aridity in the Yucatan, Alpine glacial advances, and a weakened Asian summer monsoon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-348
Number of pages7
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Justin Revenaugh for help with constructing the composite record, Chris Folland for providing data on the SNAO Index, Xianfeng Wang and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript, and Gene Turner for permission to enter Buckeye Creek Cave and collect the stalagmites used in this project. The research was supported by NSF grants EAR 0903071 to HDR and EAR 0902867 to RLE.


  • Bermuda High
  • East Central North America
  • Holocene
  • Seasonality
  • Speleothem
  • Summer North Atlantic Oscillation


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