Continued obliquity pacing of East Asian summer precipitation after the mid-Pleistocene transition

Tao Li, Fei Liu, Hemmo A. Abels, Chen Feng You, Zeke Zhang, Jun Chen, Junfeng Ji, Laifeng Li, Le Li, Hou Chun Liu, Chao Ren, Renyuan Xia, Liang Zhao, Wenfang Zhang, Gaojun Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Records from natural archives show that the strength of the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) strongly depends on the orbital configuration of the Earth. However, the dominant orbital cycles driving EASM have been found to be spatially different. Speleothem stable oxygen isotopic records from southern China, which are believed to reflect large-scale changes in the Asian monsoon system, are dominated by climatic precession cycles. Further north, on the Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP), loess-and-paleosol sequences, which are argued to be controlled by monsoon intensity, are in pace with global ice volume changes dominated by obliquity, and after the mid-Pleistocene transition by 100-kyr cycles. To understand these critical discrepancies, here we apply a novel proxy based on the trace metal compositions of pedogenic carbonate in the eolian deposits on the CLP to reconstruct summer precipitation over the last 1.5 million years. Our reconstructions show that summer precipitation on the CLP is dominantly forced by obliquity not in pace with the ice-volume-imprinted loess-paleosol sequences before and after the mid-Pleistocene transition or with the precession-paced speleothem oxygen isotopic records. Coupled with climate model results, we suggest that the obliquity-driven variations of summer precipitation may originate from the gradient of boreal insolation that modulates the thermal contrast between the Asian continent and surrounding oceans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • climate change
  • microcodium
  • Milankovitch cycles
  • monsoon dynamics
  • soil carbonate


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