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Monsoon source shifts during the drying mid-Holocene: Biomarker isotope based evidence from the core 'monsoon zone' (CMZ) of India

  • A better understanding of past variations of the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM), that plays a vital role for the still largely agro-based economy in India, can lead to a better assessment of its potential impact under global climate change scenarios. However, our knowledge of spatiotemporal patterns of ISM strength is limited due to the lack of high-resolution, continental paleohydrological records. Here, we reconstruct centennial-scale hydrological variability during the Holocene associated to changes in the intensity of the ISM based on a record of lipid biomarker abundances and compound-specific stable isotopic composition of a 10 m long sediment core from saline alkaline Lonar Lake, situated in the core 'monsoon zone' of central India. We identified three main periods of distinct hydrology during the Holocene in central India. The period between 10.1 and 6 cal ka BP was likely the wettest during the Holocene. Lower average chain length (ACL) index values (29.4-28.6) and negative delta C-13(wax) values (-34.8 parts per thousand toA better understanding of past variations of the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM), that plays a vital role for the still largely agro-based economy in India, can lead to a better assessment of its potential impact under global climate change scenarios. However, our knowledge of spatiotemporal patterns of ISM strength is limited due to the lack of high-resolution, continental paleohydrological records. Here, we reconstruct centennial-scale hydrological variability during the Holocene associated to changes in the intensity of the ISM based on a record of lipid biomarker abundances and compound-specific stable isotopic composition of a 10 m long sediment core from saline alkaline Lonar Lake, situated in the core 'monsoon zone' of central India. We identified three main periods of distinct hydrology during the Holocene in central India. The period between 10.1 and 6 cal ka BP was likely the wettest during the Holocene. Lower average chain length (ACL) index values (29.4-28.6) and negative delta C-13(wax) values (-34.8 parts per thousand to -27.8 parts per thousand) of leaf wax n-alkanes indicate the dominance of woody C-3 vegetation in the catchment, and negative delta D-wax values (concentration weighted average) (-171 parts per thousand to -147 parts per thousand) suggest a wet period due to an intensified monsoon. After 6 cal ka BP, a gradual shift to less negative delta C-13(wax) values (particularly for the grass derived n-C-31) and appearance of the triterpene lipid tetrahymanol, generally considered as a marker for salinity and water column stratification, mark the onset of drier conditions. At 5.1 cal ka BP an increasing flux of leaf wax n-alkanes along with the highest flux of tetrahymanol indicate a major lowering of the lake level. Between 4.8 and 4 cal ka BP, we find evidence for a transition to arid conditions, indicated by high and strongly variable tetrahymanol flux. In addition, a pronounced shift to less negative delta C-13(wax) values, in particular for n-C-31 (-25.2 parts per thousand to -22.8 parts per thousand), during this period indicates a change of dominant vegetation to C-4 grasses. In agreement with other proxy data, such as deposition of evaporite minerals, we interpret this period to reflect the driest conditions in the region during the last 10.1 ka. This transition led to protracted late Holocene arid conditions after 4 ka with the presence of a permanent saline lake, supported by the sustained presence of tetrahymanol and more positive average delta D-wax values (-122 parts per thousand to -141 parts per thousand). A late Holocene peak of cyanobacterial biomarker input at 1.3 cal ka BP might represent an event of lake eutrophication, possibly due to human impact and the onset of cattle/livestock farming in the catchment. A unique feature of our record is the presence of a distinct transitional period between 4.8 and 4 cal ka BP, which was characterized by some of the most negative delta D-wax values during the Holocene (up to -180 parts per thousand), when all other proxy data indicate the driest conditions during the Holocene. These negative delta D-wax values can as such most reasonably be explained by a shift in moisture source area and/or pathways or rainfall seasonality during this transitional period. We hypothesize that orbital induced weakening of the summer solar insolation and associated reorganization of the general atmospheric circulation, as a possible southward displacement of the tropical rainbelt, led to an unstable hydroclimate in central India between 4.8 and 4 ka.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Saswati Sarkar, Sushma Prasad, Heinz Wilkes, Nils Riedel, Martina Stebich, Nathani Basavaiah, Dirk Sachse
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.06.020
ISSN:0277-3791 (print)
Parent Title (English):Quaternary science reviews : the international multidisciplinary research and review journal
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publication:Oxford
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2015
Year of Completion:2015
Release Date:2017/03/27
Tag:Compound-specific stable isotopic; Holocene; Indian Summer Monsoon; Lipid biomarkers; Lonar Lake; composition
Volume:123
Pagenumber:14
First Page:144
Last Page:157
Funder:DFG-Graduate School "Interactions between Tectonics, Climate and Biosphere in the African Asian monsoonal region" of the University of Potsdam [PR 1364/1, PR 1163/1-1]; German Science Foundation (DFG) [PR 1163/2-1]; DFG Forschergruppe HIMPAC [PR 1163/4-1, FOR 1380]; Emmy-Noether Grant of the DFG [SA1889/1-1]
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften
Peer Review:Referiert