Abstract

The Asian monsoon is a key component of the Earth's climate system that directly affects the livelihood of 60% of the world population. Reliable reconstruction of changes in monsoon precipitation during the Holocene is required to better understand the present climate conditions and to predict future climate processes in the Asian monsoon domain. Reconstruction of changes in Holocene monsoon precipitation has been done in various regions of this domain using a variety of paleoclimate proxies. However, different proxies have yielded different paleoclimate records of long-term monsoon rainfall variability. We apply compound-specific stable hydrogen isotope compositions of the plant wax n-alkanes isolated from the Hongyuan peat sequence in eastern Tibet to reevaluate the regional carbonate oxygen isotopic and lake-level records. The D/H ratios of the n-alkanes resolve the apparent discrepancy among the different paleoclimate proxies. Our result indicates that lake-level fluctuation is a reliable recorder of changes in the amount of summer monsoonal precipitation while long-term isotope records largely reflect large-scale changes in the source of water vapor rather than a local precipitation signal. Combining lake-level, biomarker, and carbonate isotopic records, we conclude that the early Holocene monsoon precipitation in southwest China has been greatly influenced by the Indian monsoon.

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