Rapid shifts in past climate recorded in polar ice sheets have elicited various explanations relating to either thermohaline circulation changes by ice-rafting or natural greenhouse gas concentrations modulated by climatic conditions in the tropics. To compare the tropical paleoclimate record with the polar record, one must choose sediment cores from highly productive ocean regions. Necessarily, such regions reflect the wind records in the tropics, because high productivity is associated with upwelling driven by winds. Comparing tropical precipitation records with high-latitude records is, however, a more difficult task because sediments recording paleoprecipitation usually have low sedimentation rates, and offer coarser resolution relative to polar ice cores. Here, we present δ18O data of three planktonic species of Foraminifera (a proxy for precipitation) from such a sediment core, spanning the past 35 ka for the equatorial Indian Ocean, which falls under the southwest monsoon (SWM) realm. Results show that minimum SWM precipitation occurred at the Last Glacial Maximum, with a subsequent increase at Termination IA. During the Holocene, SWM precipitation intensified uniformly up to the core top (∼2.2 ka B.P.), as revealed by generally decreasing δ18O values. Variations in precipitation are consistent with climate changes recorded in polar ice sheets. Although the different resolutions of the two records preclude a rigorous comparison, abrupt cooling/warming events appear to be accompanied by sudden reduction/enhancement in (SWM) rainfall. Thus, mechanisms with time scales much shorter than a millennium, such as natural greenhouse warming (e.g., CH4 concentration), controlled by emissions from the tropics, could have played a major role in high-latitude climate change.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)