Late Holocene South American and Indian summer monsoon variability: Assessing the regional significance of the Medieval Climate Anomaly and Little Ice Age
Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 5:30 PM
The response of Earth’s major climate systems to natural forcings during the last 2000 years can provide valuable insight into the affect that ongoing climate change may have on these systems. Understanding the relationship between temperature, monsoonal hydroclimate and radiative forcing is of particular interest because hydrologic responses in these systems have the ability to impact over half of the global population. Here, late Holocene variability in the South American and Indian summer monsoon regions is examined using sedimentological, geochemical and isotopic proxies from high altitude lake sediment archives from the Colombian Andes and the southeastern Tibetan Plateau. New results from Laguna de Ubaque, a small moraine dammed lake at 2060 m ASL in the Eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes, suggest a reduction in Andean South American summer monsoon (SASM) rainfall during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA; 900 to 1200 CE) that is consistent with other records from the Andes. During the Little Ice Age (LIA; 1450 to 1900 CE), Ubaque shows wet conditions between 1450 and 1600 CE and drier conditions from1600 to 1900 CE. This pattern is similar to accumulation at the Quelccaya Ice Cap, but differs from ice core, speleothem and lake sediment oxygen isotope records of synoptic-scale monsoonal precipitation, suggesting that Andean rainfall anomalies may have differed from upstream monsoonal trends over the Amazon. In contrast, results from Badi Namco and Paru Co on the southeastern Tibetan Plateau suggest that the MCA and LIA were relatively minor hydroclimate events superimposed on a larger millennial scale variation in Indian summer monsoon precipitation (1200 to 200 cal yr B.P.) that was associated with changes in the position of the ITCZ, surface air temperature over the Tibetan Plateau and sea surface temperatures in the western tropical Pacific. The unique hydroclimate variations in the ISM and SASM regions supports the idea that while spatially extensive, the MCA and LIA had heterogeneous global expressions and that local factors played an important role in the regional expressions of these events. Analysis of Last Millennium simulations from the CMIP5 ensemble support inferences derived from proxy records and provide further insight into variability in global monsoonal systems.