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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Speleothem records from western Thailand indicate an early rapid shift of the Indian summer monsoon during the Younger Dryas termination

Jacobson, Matthew J.; Chawchai, Sakonvan; Scholz, Denis; Riechelmann, Dana F. C.; Holmgren, Karin; Vonhof, Hubert; Wang, Xianfeng; Liu, Guangxin


Mainland Southeast Asia experiences complex and variable hydroclimatic conditions, mainly due to its location at the intersection of Asian monsoon subsystems. Predicting future changes requires an in-depth understanding of paleoclimatic conditions that is currently hindered by a paucity of records in some regions. In this paper, we present the first speleothem stable isotope records from western Thailand detailing the Bølling-Allerød interstadial, Younger Dryas termination, and early- to mid-Holocene period. We find evidence of higher precipitation during the Bølling-Allerød (14,321-12,824 years before present (1950: BP)) compared to a Younger Dryas termination that starts 11,702-11,674 BP, has a rapid shift centered on 11,660-11,641 BP, and ends 11,603-11,589 BP. In addition, our records show Holocene monsoon intensity peaking at 8250 BP or before, a multi-millennia delay from the Northern Hemisphere summer insolation peak, followed by a trend to drier conditions until at least 750 BP. Assessment of the timing of the Younger Dryas termination in paleoclimate records across Southeast Asia reveals an earlier shift of the Indian Summer Monsoon to global climate shifts when compared to East Asian Summer Monsoon records. The causes of this are currently unknown. Some potentially important aspects include: an Indian Summer Monsoon influence on East Asian Summer Monsoon strength via the Indian Ocean Dipole climate pattern, the role of the Tibetan Plateau in monsoon dynamics, and exposure of the Sundaland shoreline. More high-resolution paleoclimate records, especially on the pathway of Indian Summer Monsoon to East Asian Summer Monsoon, are required for further discussion on the mechanisms controlling the differences between climate regimes.


Speleothems; Southeast Asia; Younger Dryas; Pleistocene; Holocene; Paleoclimatology; Stable isotopes; Bayesian change point analysis; U-Th series

Published in

Quaternary Science Reviews
2024, Volume: 330, article number: 108597