skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on May 29, 2024

Title: Global Synthesis of Regional Holocene Hydroclimate Variability Using Proxy and Model Data
Abstract

Substantial changes in terrestrial hydroclimate during the Holocene are recorded in geological archives and simulated by computer models. To identify spatial and temporal patterns during the past 12 ka, proxy records sensitive to changing precipitation and effective moisture (precipitation minus evaporation) were compiled from across the globe (n = 813). Proxy composite timeseries were computed for 30 of the IPCC AR6 regions and compared to two full‐Holocene transient model simulations (TraCE‐21ka and HadCM3) and twelve mid‐Holocene CMIP6 simulations. We find that throughout Northern Hemisphere monsoon regions, proxy and model simulations indicate wetter‐than‐modern conditions during the early and mid‐Holocene while Southern Hemisphere monsoon regions were drier. This insolation driven trend toward modern values began approximately 6,000 years ago, and the clear agreement among proxy records and models may reflect the large magnitude of precipitation change and consistent atmospheric circulation forcing mechanism for these regions. In the midlatitudes, the pattern of change is less certain. Generally, proxy composites show a wetting trend throughout the Holocene for the northern midlatitudes, possibly due to strengthening westerlies from an increasing latitudinal temperature gradient. However, simulations indicate that the magnitude of change was relatively low, and for portions of North America, there is a proxy‐model disagreement. At high latitudes, hydroclimate is positively correlated with temperature in both proxies and models, consistent with projected wetting as temperatures rise. Overall, this large proxy database reveals a coherent pattern of hydroclimate variability despite the challenges associated with reconstructing hydroclimate fields.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1903548 2002328 1903465
NSF-PAR ID:
10421055
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
Volume:
38
Issue:
6
ISSN:
2572-4517
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    During the mid‐Holocene (MH: ∼6,000 years Before Present) and Last Interglacial LIG (LIG: ∼129,000–116,000 years Before Present) differences in the seasonal and latitudinal distribution of insolation drove Northern Hemisphere high‐latitude warming comparable to that projected for the end of the 21st century in low emissions scenarios. Paleoclimate proxy records point to distinct but regionally variable hydroclimatic changes during these past warm intervals. However, model simulations have generally disagreed on North American regional moisture patterns during the MH and LIG. To investigate how closely the latest generation of models associated with the Paleoclimate Model Intercomparison Project (PMIP4) reproduces proxy‐inferred moisture patterns during recent warm periods, we compare hydroclimate output from 17 PMIP4 models with newly updated compilations of moisture‐sensitive North American proxy records during the MH and LIG. Agreement is lower for the MH, with models producing wet anomalies across the western United States (US) where most proxies indicate increased aridity relative to the preindustrial period. The models that agree most closely with the LIG proxy compilation display relative wetness in the eastern US and Alaska, and dryness in the northwest and central US. An assessment of atmospheric dynamics using an ensemble of the three LIG simulations that best agree with the proxies suggests that weaker winter North Pacific pressure gradients and steeper summer North Pacific and Atlantic gradients drive LIG precipitation patterns. Our updated compilations and proxy‐model comparisons offer a tool for benchmarking climate models and their performance in simulating climate states that are warmer than present.

     
    more » « less
  2. The hydroclimate of the southwestern United States (US) region changed abruptly during the latest Pleistocene as the continental ice sheets over North America retreated from their most southerly extent. To investigate the nature of this change, we present a new record from Lake Elsinore, located 36 km inland from the Pacific Ocean in Southern California and evaluate it in the context of records across the coastal and interior southwest United States, including northwest Mexico. The sediment core recovered from Lake Elsinore provides a continuous sequence with multi-decadal resolution spanning 19e9 ka BP. Sedimentological and geochemical analyses reveal hydrologic variability. In particular, sand and carbonate components indicate abrupt changes at the Oldest Dryas (OD), BøllingeAllerød (BA), and Younger Dryas (YD) transitions, consistent with the timing in Greenland. Hydrogen isotope analyses of the C28 nalkanoic acids from plant leaf waxes (dDwax) reveal a long term trend toward less negative values across 19 9 ka BP. dDwax values during the OD suggest a North Pacific moisture source for precipitation, consistent with the dipping westerlies hypothesis. We find no isotopic evidence for the North American Monsoon reaching as far west as Lake Elsinore; therefore, we infer that wet/dry changes in the coastal southwest were expressed through winter-season precipitation, consistent with modern climatology. Comparing Lake Elsinore to other southwest records (notably Cave of Bells and Fort Stanton) we find coincident timing of the major transitions (OD to BA, BA to YD) and hydrologic responses during the OD and BA. The hydrologic response, however, varied during the YD consistent with a dipole between the coastal and interior southwest. The coherent pattern of hydrologic responses across the interior southwest US and northwest Mexico during the OD (wet), the BA (drier), and YD (wet) follows changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, presumably via its combined influence on North Pacific winter storm tracks and the extent/magnitude of the North American Monsoon. In contrast, Lake Elsinore and the coastal southwest experiences a deglacial drying trend punctuated by abrupt change at the OD to BA and BA to YD transitions. This trend tracks rising greenhouse gases through the deglacial, with an apparent southward shift in westerly moisture sources adjusting to the retreating ice sheet. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The Yucatán Peninsula (YP) has a complex hydroclimate with many proposed drivers of interannual and longer‐term variability, ranging from coupled ocean–atmosphere processes to frequency of tropical cyclones. The mid‐Holocene, a time of higher Northern Hemisphere summer insolation, provides an opportunity to test the relationship between YP precipitation and ocean temperature. Here, we present a new, ∼annually resolved speleothem record of stable isotope (δ18O and δ13C) and trace element (Mg/Ca and Sr/Ca) ratios for a section of the mid‐Holocene (5.2–5.7 kyr BP), before extensive agriculture began in the region. A meter‐long stalagmite from Río Secreto, a cave system in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, was dated using U–Th geochronology and layer counting, yielding multidecadal age uncertainty (median 2SD of ±70 years). New proxy data were compared to an existing late Holocene stalagmite record from the same cave system, allowing us to examine changes in hydrology over time and to paleoclimate records from the southern YP. The δ18O, δ13C, and Mg/Ca data consistently indicate higher mean precipitation and lower precipitation variability during the mid‐Holocene compared to the late Holocene. Despite this reduced variability, multidecadal precipitation variations were persistent in regional hydroclimate during the mid‐Holocene. We therefore conclude that higher summer insolation led to increased mean precipitation and decreased precipitation variability in the northern YP but that the region is susceptible to dry periods across climate mean states. Given projected decreases in wet season precipitation in the YP’s near future, we suggest that climate mitigation strategies emphasize drought preparation.

     
    more » « less
  4. Uncertainty about the influence of anthropogenic radiative forcing on the position and strength of convective rainfall in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) inhibits our ability to project future tropical hydroclimate change in a warmer world. Paleoclimatic and modeling data inform on the timescales and mechanisms of ITCZ variability; yet a comprehensive, long-term perspective remains elusive. Here, we quantify the evolution of neotropical hydroclimate over the preindustrial past millennium (850 to 1850 CE) using a synthesis of 48 paleo-records, accounting for uncertainties in paleo-archive age models. We show that an interhemispheric pattern of precipitation antiphasing occurred on multicentury timescales in response to changes in natural radiative forcing. The conventionally defined “Little Ice Age” (1450 to 1850 CE) was marked by a clear shift toward wetter conditions in the southern neotropics and a less distinct and spatiotemporally complex transition toward drier conditions in the northern neotropics. This pattern of hydroclimatic change is consistent with results from climate model simulations indicating that a relative cooling of the Northern Hemisphere caused a southward shift in the thermal equator across the Atlantic basin and a southerly displacement of the ITCZ in the tropical Americas, with volcanic forcing as the principal driver. These findings are at odds with proxy-based reconstructions of ITCZ behavior in the western Pacific basin, where changes in ITCZ width and intensity, rather than mean position, appear to have driven hydroclimate transitions over the last millennium. This reinforces the idea that ITCZ responses to external forcing are region specific, complicating projections of the tropical precipitation response to global warming. 
    more » « less
  5. Over the late Holocene, a variety of hydroclimate-sensitive proxies have identified substantial, multidecadal changes in Indian summer monsoon (ISM) precipitation, the most prominent of which is the “4.2 ka event”. This interval, dated to ~4.2-3.9 ka, is associated with severe droughts across South Asia that are linked to societal change. Given the absence of the 4.2 ka event in polar records, the 4.2 ka event is generally associated with low latitude forcings, but no clear consensus on its origins has been reached. We investigated the ISM response to the 4.2 ka event through analysis of aragonite stalagmites from Siddha cave, formed in the lower Paleozoic Dhading dolomite in the Pokhara Valley of central Nepal (28.0˚N, 84.1˚E; ~850 m.a.s.l.). The climate of this region is dominated by small monthly variations in air temperature (21±5˚C) but strong precipitation seasonality associated with the ISM: ~80% of the annual 3900 mm of rainfall occurs between June and September. High uranium and low detrital thorium abundances in these stalagmites yield precise U/Th ages that all fall within stratigraphic order. These dates reveal continuous growth from 4.30-2.26 ka, interrupted only by a hiatus from 3.27-3.10 ka. Overlap with coeval aragonite stalagmites reveals generally consistent trends in carbon and oxygen isotope ratios, suggesting that these stalagmites reflect environmental variability and not secondary (e.g., kinetic) effects. Many stalagmite-based paleomonsoon reconstructions rely on oxygen isotope ratios, which track amount effects in regional rainfall. However, our on-going rainwater collection and analysis program, as well as a previous study conducted in Kathmandu, 120 km the east of Siddha cave, reveals that amount effects in precipitation are weak in this region, particularly during the monsoon season, and thus we rely instead on carbon isotope ratios, which have been demonstrated to track site-specific effective precipitation. Siddha cave stalagmite carbon isotopes, in contrast to other South Asian proxy records, indicate that ISM rainfall increased at Siddha cave from 4.13-3.91 ka. As a further test of this result, we analyzed uranium abundances in the section spanning 4.3-3.4 ka. Uranium serves as an indicator of prior aragonite precipitation and thus of hydroclimate, and like carbon isotopes, suggests increased ISM rainfall coincident with the 4.2 ka event. This precipitation anomaly is nearly identical in timing and structure but anti-phased with stalagmites from Mawmluh cave, northeastern India. We investigated the climatic origins of this precipitation dipole using observational data from the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC) and Hadley Center Sea Ice and Sea Surface Temperature (HadISST) products. Preliminary spatial composites suggest that large precipitation differences between Mawmluh and Siddha caves are associated with SST anomalies in the equatorial Pacific. Additionally, superposed Epoch Analysis shows relatively rapid eastern Indian Ocean cooling during the summer monsoon season coeval with large precipitation differences between these sites. Our findings lend support to a tropical Indo-Pacific origin of the 4.2 ka event. 
    more » « less