Centennial- to decadal-scale monsoon precipitation variability in the semi-humid region, northern China during the last 1860 years: Records from stalagmites in huangye cave

Liangcheng Tan, Yanjun Cai, Zhisheng An, R. Lawrence Edwards, Hai Cheng, Chuan Chou Shen, Haiwei Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations

Abstract

We developed a composite oxygen isotopic record of cave calcite for the last 1860 years based on three stalagmites from the Huangye Cave in eastern Gansu Province, northern China. The δ18O values reflect monsoon precipitation changes, with lower δ18O values representing higher precipitation and vice versa. Three intervals of high precipitation were identified at AD 138-450, AD 730-1200, and AD 1860-1960. Two intervals of low precipitation occurred at AD 1320-1410 and AD 1530-1860. The reconstructed monsoon precipitation variations correlate well with other records further east in the eastern Yellow River Basin, suggesting synchronous precipitation changes during the late Holocene in the semi-humid region of northern China on decadal to centennial scales. Peak periods of warfare in dynastic transition times, such as at AD 391-420, AD 601-630, AD 1111-1140, AD 1351-1380, and AD 1621-1650, correspond to sharp declines in precipitation or temperature in semi-humid northern China, indicating a strong connection between climatic and societal changes. Our study suggests that climatic deterioration in semi-humid northern China has played an important role in Chinese societal evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-296
Number of pages10
JournalHolocene
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011

Keywords

  • late Holocene
  • monsoon precipitation
  • northern China
  • societal change
  • stalagmite

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