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  1. Cave carbonate minerals are an important terrestrial paleoclimate archive. A few studies have explored the potential for applying carbonate clumped isotope thermometry to speleothems as a tool for constraining past temperatures. To date, most papers utilizing this method have focused on mass-47 clumped isotope values (Δ47) at a single location and reported that cave carbonate minerals rarely achieve isotopic equilibrium, with kinetic isotope effects (KIEs) attributed to CO2 degassing. More recently, studies have shown that mass-47 and mass-48 CO2 from acid digested carbonate minerals (Δ47 and Δ48) can be used together to assess equilibrium and probe KIEs. Here, we examined 44 natural and synthetic modern cave carbonate mineral samples from 13 localities with varying environmental conditions (ventilation, water level, pCO2, temperature) for (dis)equilibrium using Δ47-Δ48 values, in concert with traditional stable carbon (δ13C) and oxygen (δ18O) isotope ratios. Data showed that 19 of 44 samples exhibited Δ47-Δ48 values indistinguishable from isotopic equilibrium, and 18 (95 %) of these samples yield Δ47-predicted temperatures within error of measured modern temperatures. Conversely, 25 samples exhibited isotopic disequilibria, 13 of which yield erroneous temperature estimates. Within some speleothemsamples, we find Δ47-Δ48 values consistent with CO2 degassing effects, however, the majority of sampleswith KIEs are consistent with other processes being dominant. We hypothesize that these values reflect isotopicbuffering effects on clumped isotopes that can be considerable and cannot be overlooked. Using a Raleigh Distillation Model, we examined carbon and oxygen isotope exchange trajectories and their relationships with dual clumped isotope disequilibria. Carbon isotope exchange is associated with depletion of both Δ47 and Δ48 relative to equilibrium, while oxygen isotope exchange is associated with enrichment of both Δ47 and Δ48 relative to equilibrium. Cave rafts collected from proximate locations in Mexico exhibit the largest averagedepartures from equilibrium (ΔΔ47 = − 0.032 ± 0.007, ΔΔ48 = − 0.104 ± 0.035, where ΔΔi is the measured value – the equilibrium value). This study shows how the Δ47-Δ48 dual carbonate clumped isotope framework can be applied to a variety of tcave carbonate mineral samples, enabling identification of isotopic equilibria and therefore quantitative application of clumped isotope thermometry for paleoclimate reconstruction, or alternatively, constraining the mechanisms of kinetic effects. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2025
  2. Most paleoclimate studies of Mainland Southeast Asia hydroclimate focus on the summer monsoon, with few studies investigating rainfall in other seasons. Here, we present a multiproxy stalagmite record (45,000 to 4,000 years) from central Vietnam, a region that receives most of its annual rainfall in autumn (September-November). We find evidence of a prolonged dry period spanning the last glacial maximum that is punctuated by an abrupt shift to wetter conditions during the deglaciation at ~14 ka. Paired with climate model simulations, we show that sea-level change drives autumn monsoon rainfall variability on glacial-orbital timescales. Consistent with the dry signal in the stalagmite record, climate model simulations reveal that lower glacial sea level exposes land in the Gulf of Tonkin and along the South China Shelf, reducing convection and moisture delivery to central Vietnam. When sea level rises and these landmasses flood at ~14 ka, moisture delivery to central Vietnam increases, causing an abrupt shift from dry to wet conditions. On millennial timescales, we find signatures of well-known Heinrich Stadials (HS) (dry conditions) and Dansgaard–Oeschger Events (wet conditions). Model simulations show that during the dry HS, changes in sea surface temperature related to meltwater forcing cause the formation of an anomalous anticyclone in the Western Pacific, which advects dry air across central Vietnam, decreasing autumn rainfall. Notably, sea level modulates the magnitude of millennial-scale dry and wet phases by muting dry events and enhancing wet events during periods of low sea level, highlighting the importance of this mechanism to autumn monsoon variability. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 4, 2024
  3. Abstract

    The timing and mechanisms of past hydroclimate change in northeast Mexico are poorly constrained, limiting our ability to evaluate climate model performance. To address this, we present a multiproxy speleothem record of past hydroclimate variability spanning 62.5 to 5.1 ka from Tamaulipas, Mexico. Here we show a strong influence of Atlantic and Pacific sea surface temperatures on orbital and millennial scale precipitation changes in the region. Multiple proxies show no clear response to insolation forcing, but strong evidence for dry conditions during Heinrich Stadials. While these trends are consistent with other records from across Mesoamerica and the Caribbean, the relative importance of thermodynamic and dynamic controls in driving this response is debated. An isotope-enabled climate model shows that cool Atlantic SSTs and stronger easterlies drive a strong inter-basin sea surface temperature gradient and a southward shift in moisture convergence, causing drying in this region.

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  4. Abstract

    The winter and summer monsoons in Southeast Asia are important but highly variable sources of rainfall. Current understanding of the winter monsoon is limited by conflicting proxy observations, resulting from the decoupling of regional atmospheric circulation patterns and local rainfall dynamics. These signals are difficult to decipher in paleoclimate reconstructions. Here, we present a winter monsoon speleothem record from Southeast Asia covering the Holocene and find that winter and summer rainfall changed synchronously, forced by changes in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. In contrast, regional atmospheric circulation shows an inverse relation between winter and summer controlled by seasonal insolation over the Northern Hemisphere. We show that disentangling the local and regional signal in paleoclimate reconstructions is crucial in understanding and projecting winter and summer monsoon variability in Southeast Asia.

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  5. Abstract

    Climate change is expected to decrease mean precipitation in California, but changes in hydroclimate extremes are likely to have more immediate and significant impacts on California water resources, ecosystems, and economy. Paleoclimate records can provide valuable baseline data for constraining natural hydroclimate variability and improving climate projections, but quantitative precipitation records are limited. A new study by de Wet et al. (2021) provides the first semi‐quantitative record of early Holocene precipitation in central California, based on speleothem calcium isotope (δ44Ca) variations, that indicates that precipitation variability during and preceding the 8.2 kyr event approached or exceeded that of recent decades. This study outlines a new approach for developing more robust and quantitative hydroclimate records, and also highlights that precipitation “whiplash” is a ubiquitous feature of California's climate that we must prepare for, especially given the likelihood that human‐caused climate change is already increasing the frequency and severity of hydrologic extremes.

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  6. Caves occur everywhere on our planet, from the tropics to the high latitudes and from below sea level to alpine settings. Cave morphologies provide clues to their formation mechanisms, and their iconic mineralogical features—stalagmites and stalactites—carry a wealth of paleoenvironmental information encoded in their geochemistry and mineralogy. Recent work demonstrates a striking improvement in our ability to decode these paleoenvironmental proxies, and dramatic geochronological advances enable higher resolution records that extend further back in geologic time. Cave research addresses an ever-increasing range of geoscience problems, from establishing the timing and mechanisms of climate change to uncovering detailed records of geomagnetic field behavior. 
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  7. Abstract

    The 8.2 ka event is the most significant global climate anomaly of the Holocene epoch, but a lack of records from Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA) currently limits our understanding of the spatial and temporal extent of the climate response. A newly developed speleothem record from Tham Doun Mai Cave, Northern Laos provides the first high‐resolution record of this event in MSEA. Our multiproxy record (δ18O, δ13C, Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca, and petrographic data), anchored in time by 9 U‐Th ages, reveals a significant reduction in local rainfall amount and weakening of the monsoon at the event onset at ∼8.29 ± 0.03 ka BP. This response lasts for a minimum of ∼170 years, similar to event length estimates from other speleothem δ18O monsoon records. Interestingly, however, our δ13C and Mg/Ca data, proxies for local hydrology, show that abrupt changes to local rainfall amounts began decades earlier (∼70 years) than registered in the δ18O. Moreover, the δ13C and Mg/Ca also show that reductions in rainfall continued for at least ∼200 years longer than the weakening of the monsoon inferred from the δ18O. Our interpretations suggest that drier conditions brought on by the 8.2 ka event in MSEA were felt beyond the temporal boundaries defined by δ18O‐inferred monsoon intensity, and an initial wet period (or precursor event) may have preceded the local drying. Most existing Asian Monsoon proxy records of the 8.2 ka event may lack the resolution and/or multiproxy information necessary to establish local and regional hydrological sensitivity to abrupt climate change.

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  8. null (Ed.)
  9. Abstract The interpretation of palaeoclimate archives based on oxygen isotopes depends critically on a detailed understanding of processes controlling the isotopic composition of precipitation. In the summer monsoonal realm, like Southeast Asia, seasonally and interannually depleted oxygen isotope ratios in precipitation have been linked to the summer monsoon strength. However, in some regions, such as central Vietnam, the majority of precipitation falls outside the summer monsoon period. We investigate processes controlling stable isotopes in precipitation from central Vietnam by combining moisture uptake calculations with monthly stable isotope data observed over five years. We find that the isotopic seasonal cycle in this region is driven by a shift in moisture source from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea. This shift is reflected in oxygen isotope ratios with low values (− 8 to − 10‰) during summer and high values during spring/winter (0 to − 3‰), while 70% of the annual rainfall occurs during autumn. Interannual changes in precipitation isotopes in central Vietnam are governed by the timing of the seasonal onset and withdrawal of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which controls the amount of vapour contributed from each source. 
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