Evidence of continuous Asian summer monsoon weakening as a response to global cooling over the last 8 Ma

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© 2017 International Association for Gondwana Research The Asian Summer Monsoon (ASM) is the dominant climate system of South and East Asia. However, the history of monsoon intensification and the driving forces behind it are controversial. Wind-blown sediments in mid-latitude East Asia and fluvial-derived sediments in the northern South China Sea imply contrasting ASM patterns during the late Cenozoic. Here we use pollen records from the southwest South China Sea (International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Site U1433) to reconstruct the ASM evolution in low-latitude Southeast Asia. A slow increase in herbaceous plants since 8 Ma indicates a persistent weakening of precipitation in Indochina, which is dominated by the ASM. This signal is closely associated with a consistent coniferous plant record, indicating a continuous cooling trend that correlates well with Sea Surface Temperature (SST) decrease in the west Pacific Ocean. We propose that the monsoon weakening resulted in as much as a ~ 25% reduction in precipitation over the past 8 Ma in response to the Northern Hemisphere glaciation/global cooling, with some of the increase in conifers being linked to uplift of the Vietnamese Central Highland and the SE flank of the Tibetan Plateau in Yunnan and northern Vietnam.

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Gondwana Research

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