National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Date of this Version



Earth and Planetary Science Letters 303 (2011) 133–142; doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2010.12.048


Little is known about the possible teleconnections between abrupt climatic changes originating in the North Atlantic and precipitation dynamics in the Australian–Indonesian summer monsoon (AISM) domain. We examine the climatic impacts of Heinrich stadial 3 (HS3) and Greenland interstadials 4 and 3 (GIS4/3) on AISM-associated precipitation through a high-resolution analysis of stable isotope (δ18O, δ13C) and trace element (Mg/Ca, P/Ca) ratios in a stalagmite from Liang Luar cave, Flores, Indonesia. Sixteen high precision 230Th dates indicate that stalagmite LR07-E1 grew rapidly (~0.3–1.0 mm/yr) in two phases between ~31.5– 30.1 ka and ~27.8–25.6 ka, separated by a ~2.3 kyr unconformity. Temporally consistent abrupt responses occur in the Flores record during HS3 and GIS4, which are coherent with changes in stalagmite δ18O records from China and Brazil. The response of low-latitude precipitation to HS3 cooling and GIS4 warming, as demonstrated by the widely separated sites, comprises three distinct simplified phases: (1) a strong southward migration of the ITCZ during HS3 is associated with a decrease in rainfall at Liang Luar cave and in China, while wetter conditions are reconstructed from Brazil, (2) represents the peak of HS3 impacts and an extended hiatus begins in the Flores record and (3) where suggested dry conditions at Liang Luar throughout GIS4 form part of a coherent north–south anti-phasing in precipitation changes. The reconstructed changes are also broadly consistent with NASA GISS ModelE-R simulations of a Heinrich-like freshwater perturbation in the North Atlantic basin, which produces a southward shift in the ITCZ. The relationship between the palaeoclimate records indicates that atmospheric teleconnections rapidly propagate and synchronise climate change across the hemispheres during periods of abrupt climate change. Our findings augment recent proposals that large-scale atmospheric re-organisations during stadials and interstadials play a key role in driving changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration, air temperature and global climate change.