Timing and duration of the East Asian summer monsoon maximum during the Holocene based on stalagmite data from North China

Na Zhang, Yan Yang, Hai Cheng, Jingyao Zhao, Xunlin Yang, Sha Liang, Xudong Nie, Yinhuan Zhang, R. Lawrence Edwards

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39 Scopus citations


We present a continuous C-O isotope series that shows the detailed variability of East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) since 11.0 ka BP. The series is based on two stalagmites, namely, DSY1 and LM2, which were, respectively, obtained from Dongshiya and Laomu caves. The δ18O profiles of stalagmite excurse negatively in early Holocene and gradually become positive after around 6.9 ka BP, tracking the change in Northern Hemisphere summer insolation. Moreover, the ‘early-Holocene maximum’ supported by stalagmite δ18O records differs from the ‘mid-Holocene maximum’ indicated by geological archives, such as lake sediments and loess. This difference may be caused by different definition indicators of monsoon intensity. Stalagmite δ18O is relative to EASM intensity, but irrelative to precipitation in the East Asian monsoon region. The time intervals of EASM maximum and Holocene climatic optimum are desynchronized, which is confirmed by the variation in the stalagmite δ13C series. Stalagmite δ13C and δ18O have different variation tendencies. The tendency of δ13C in early mid-Holocene was generally light, but it was discontinuity and disrupted by rapid positive shift between 8.2 and 7.7 ka BP. We conclude that a rapid shift of about 8 ka BP is a turning point, before and after which δ13 C acquires different controlling factors. Stalagmite δ13 C showed no signs of positive excurse in late Holocene but it exhibited another characteristic, namely, millennial time scale oscillations. The few changes in stalagmite δ13 C is attributed to weakened insolation during summer in the northern hemisphere, which leads to low evaporation rate, thereby modulating effective humidity change. The edge of the seasonal monsoonal front in northern China during monsoon recession is sensitive to the rain belt and causes the δ13 C of the stalagmite to fluctuate greatly. This phenomenon shows that the climate in the study area is unstable in the late Holocene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1631-1641
Number of pages11
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41672160, 41372177 and 40902053), the National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFC050230205), the Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China (20090182120005) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (XDJK2011B004).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • East Asian summer monsoon
  • Holocene
  • Holocene climatic optimum
  • North China
  • circulation effect
  • speleothem δO and δC


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