Climate Dynamics

, Volume 45, Issue 5–6, pp 1219–1234 | Cite as

A Holocene East Asian winter monsoon record at the southern edge of the Gobi Desert and its comparison with a transient simulation

  • Yu LiEmail author
  • Carrie Morrill


The East Asian winter monsoon (EAWM) exhibits significant variability on intraseasonal, interannual, and interdecadal time scales and the variability can be extended to Holocene centennial and millennial scales. Previous Holocene EAWM proxy data records, which were mostly located in Central, Eastern and Southern China, did not show a consistent Holocene EAWM history. Therefore, it is difficult to provide insights into mechanisms of the long-term winter monsoon variability on the basis of the records. Eolian sediments at the southern edge of the Gobi Desert, Western China, are sensitive to the EAWM changes and less affected by the East Asian summer monsoon due to an obstruction of the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau. This paper presents a comparison between a well-dated Holocene EAWM record and coupled climate model simulations, so as to explore physical processes and influencing factors of the Holocene EAWM. Sediment samples from two Holocene eolian sedimentary sections [Huangyanghe (a) and Huangyanghe (b)] were acquired at the southern edge of the Gobi Desert. Chronologies were established based on twenty bulk organic matter AMS 14C ages and five pollen concentrates AMS 14C ages. Proxy data, including grain-size, total organic carbon, magnetic susceptibility and carbonate content were obtained from the two eolian sections. The grain-size standard deviation model was applied to determine components sensitive to variability of the Holocene EAWM. After a comparison of environmentally-sensitive grain-size components and proxy data, the 20–200 μm component at the Huangyanghe (a) and the 20–159 μm component at the Huangyanghe (b) section were selected as indicators of the Holocene EAWM, which show a strong early Holocene winter monsoon and a decline of the winter monsoon since the mid-Holocene. We also present equilibrium and transient simulations of the climate evolution for the Holocene using a state-of-art coupled climate model: the Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3). Indices for the Holocene EAWM were calculated and are consistent with the reconstructed Holocene EAWM intensity. The simulations indicate that orbital forcing effects on the land-sea temperature and sea level pressure contrast can account for the observed EAWM trends. Other forcings that were present in the early Holocene, including the remnant Laurentide ice sheet and meltwater forcing in the North Atlantic, were not responsible for the Holocene trends.


East Asian winter monsoon Holocene Climate simulations The Gobi Desert Eolian sediments 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41371009). We thank the editor and reviewers for their constructive suggestions and comments. Special thanks are given to Dr. Zhuolun Li, Mr. Hua’an Zhang, Mr. Chengqi Zhang, Mr. Kun Li and Mr. Chen Zhao for their help during the field work. We acknowledge the modeling group of TraCE project, which received funding from the US National Science Foundation (P2C2 program), US Department of Energy (Abrupt Climate Change, EaSM, INCITE programs), and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Center for Hydrologic Cycle and Water Resources in Arid RegionLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina
  2. 2.Paleoclimatology BranchNOAA’s National Climatic Data CenterBoulderUSA
  3. 3.University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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