Precipitation evolution of Central Asia during the last 5000 years

Wolff, Christian, Plessen, Birgit, Dudashvilli, Alexey S, Breitenbach, Sebastian, Cheng, Hai, Edwards, Lawrence R and Strecker, Manfred R (2017) Precipitation evolution of Central Asia during the last 5000 years. The Holocene, 27 (1). pp. 142-154. ISSN 0959-6836

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Central Asia is located at the confluence of large-scale atmospheric circulation systems. However, the number of Holocene climate records is still low in most parts of this region and insufficient to allow detailed discussion and comparisons to disentangle the complex climate history and interplays between the different climatic systems. Here, we present the first stalagmite record from arid Central Asia (south-western Kyrgyzstan) by using δ18O, δ13C, and micro x-ray fluorescence (µXRF)-sulfur data spanning the last 5000 years. The cave hosting stalagmite Uluu-2 is ideally suited to identify past shifts in seasonal variations in precipitation in this part of the world. Comparison of instrumental and paleo-isotopic studies demonstrates that the Uluu-2 speleothem isotope composition faithfully records climate changes and responds to shifts in the proportion of moisture derived from mid-latitude Westerlies during the winter/spring season. The reconstructions suggest that the area was characterized by a dry climate from 4700 to 3900 yr BP, interrupted by a wet episode around 4200 yr BP. Further drier conditions also occurred between 4000 and 3500 yr BP. Wetter conditions were re-established at ca. 2500 yr BP, after another dry episode between 3000 and 2500 yr BP. With the exception of two short dry events (1150 and 1300 yr BP), the period after 1700 yr BP shows moderate to wet conditions. Regional comparisons suggest that the strength and position of the Westerly winds control climatic shifts in arid Central Asia, leading to complex local responses.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Central Asia, North Atlantic Oscillation, precipitation reconstruction, Siberian High, speleothem, stable isotope, Westerlies
Subjects: F600 Geology
F700 Ocean Sciences
F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
F900 Others in Physical Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2020 11:04
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2020 11:04

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