Research ArticleCLIMATOLOGY

Combined high- and low-latitude forcing of East Asian monsoon precipitation variability in the Pliocene warm period

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Science Advances  13 Nov 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 46, eabc2414
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc2414


East Asian monsoon variability in the Pliocene warm world has not been sufficiently studied because of the lack of direct records. We present a high-resolution precipitation record from Pliocene fluvial-lacustrine sequences in the Weihe Basin, Central China, a region sensitive to the East Asian monsoon. The record shows an abrupt monsoon shift at ~4.2 million years ago, interpreted as the result of high-latitude cooling, with an extratropical temperature decrease across a critical threshold. The precipitation time series exhibits a pronounced ~100–thousand year periodicity and the presence of precession and half-precession cycles, which suggest low-latitude forcing. The synchronous phase but mismatched amplitudes of the East Asian monsoon precipitation proxy and eccentricity suggest a nonlinear but sensitive precipitation response to temperature forcing in the Pliocene warm world. These observations highlight the role of high- and low-latitude forcing of East Asian monsoon variations on tectonic and orbital time scales.

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