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Rapid northward shift of the Indian monsoon on the Tibetan Plateau at the end of the Little Ice Age

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Günther,  Franziska
Molecular Biogeochemistry Group, Dr. G. Gleixner, Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. S. E. Trumbore, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;
IMPRS International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Witt,  Roman
Molecular Biogeochemistry Group, Dr. G. Gleixner, Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. S. E. Trumbore, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;
IMPRS International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Gleixner,  Gerd
Molecular Biogeochemistry Group, Dr. G. Gleixner, Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. S. E. Trumbore, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Zhang, X., Xu, B., Günther, F., Witt, R., Wang, M., Xie, Y., et al. (2017). Rapid northward shift of the Indian monsoon on the Tibetan Plateau at the end of the Little Ice Age. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 122(17), 9262-9279. doi:10.1002/2017JD026849.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-E334-1
Abstract
Variations in the Indian Monsoon (IM) and Westerlies (WS) significantly affect the climate on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) and have widespread ecological and socioeconomic impacts on the whole of Asian society. So far, however, the rate and magnitude of changes in the IM have still remained unclear. Here we report for the first time that the IM rapidly shifted northward at the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA). We used sediment proxies for humidity and moisture sources from the Taro Co Lake, which is located in the transition zone between the WS and IM. Our comprehensive survey of climate records for the TP and its peripheral mountain ranges revealed that the northern boundary of the IM (i.e., the southern boundary of the WS) lay along the southern slope of the Gandise Range (~29.5°N) in the late LIA. In contrast, it passed quickly over the Gandise Range by at least 1.5° in latitude at the end of the LIA. Our results suggest that this rapid climatic shift was potentially triggered by the counteracting effects of blocking by the TP and its marginal orography, which hindered the northward movement of the IM, and the pulling thermal gradient of the TP.