Abrupt changes in Indian summer monsoon strength during the last ~900 years and their linkages to socio-economic conditions in the Indian subcontinent

Anil K. Gupta, Som Dutt, Hai Cheng, Raj K. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Abrupt shifts in Indian summer monsoon (ISM) precipitation largely affected regional hydrometeorology, accelerating socio-economic and cultural adaptations of agrarian economies in South Asia in the last millennium. Linking ISM variability to human history in the Indian subcontinent is still limited by the scarcity of high-resolution paleoclimatic data for the period encompassing the last 1000 years or earlier. We present a new high resolution oxygen isotope proxy record from the Wah Shikar cave, northeastern India and identified abrupt shifts in the ISM that had profound impact on human societies during the last ~900 yrs. The ISM was strong during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and the Current Warm Period (CWP), and show multiple shifts during the Little Ice Age (LIA). The abrupt shifts in the ISM were more frequent during warm intervals, showing a secular trend with few exceptions during the cold periods. Intervals of prolonged summer monsoon weakening are correlated to the decline of major dynasties in India, possibly due to decrease in agriculture productivity, declining economy and societal crisis. Changes in atmospheric temperature due to volcanic eruptions and sun spot activity have played major role in the onset of the LIA and other prolonged weak intervals of the ISM during the last ~900 yrs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109347
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Volume536
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
AKG thanks the Department of Science of Technology, Govt. of India for providing necessary funds under J C Bose Fellowship (No. SR/S2/JCB-80/2011 ). AKG and SD thank the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology for providing the necessary infrastructure and laboratory facilities for oxygen isotopic analysis. Data may be made available from http://dx.doi.org/10.17632/dr9mgd96t6.1 . Aditya Kharya is thanked for his help in carrying out oxygen isotopes analysis.

Funding Information:
AKG thanks the Department of Science of Technology, Govt. of India for providing necessary funds under J C Bose Fellowship (No. SR/S2/JCB-80/2011). AKG and SD thank the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology for providing the necessary infrastructure and laboratory facilities for oxygen isotopic analysis. Data may be made available from http://dx.doi.org/10.17632/dr9mgd96t6.1. Aditya Kharya is thanked for his help in carrying out oxygen isotopes analysis. AKG and SD conceived the problem, interpreted the results and wrote the manuscript. SD and RKS collected samples from the field and RKS helped in age-modelling and data interpretation. H.C. helped in Uranium-Thorium series dating of stalagmite sample and data interpretations. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Keywords

  • Current Warm period
  • Indian dynasties
  • Little Ice Age
  • Maunder Minimum
  • Medieval Climate Anomaly

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