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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/cpd-11-63-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 23 Jan 2015

Research article | 23 Jan 2015

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP). A final paper in CP is not foreseen.

Strong winter monsoon wind causes surface cooling over India and China in the Late Miocene

H. Tang1, J. T. Eronen1,2, A. Kaakinen1, T. Utescher3, B. Ahrens4, and M. Fortelius1 H. Tang et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 3Senckenberg Research Institute, Frankfurt Main; Steinmann Institute, University of Bonn, Nussallee 8, 53115 Bonn, Germany
  • 4Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Goethe University, Altenhoeferallee 1, 60438, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Abstract. Modern Asian winter monsoon characterised by the strong northwesterly wind in East Asia and northeasterly wind in South Asia, has a great impact on the surface temperature of the Asian continent. Its outbreak can result in significant cooling of the monsoon region. However, it is still unclear whether such an impact existed and is detectable in the deep past. In this study, we use temperature reconstructions from plant and mammal fossil data together with climate model results to examine the co-evolution of surface temperature and winter monsoon in the Late Miocene (11–5 Ma), when a significant change of the Asian monsoon system occurred. We find that a stronger-than-present winter monsoon wind might have existed in the Late Miocene due to the lower Asian orography, particularly the northern Tibetan Plateau and the mountains north of it. This can lead to a pronounced cooling in southern China and northern India, which counteracts the generally warmer conditions in the Late Miocene compared to present. The Late Miocene strong winter monsoon was characterised by a marked westerly component and primarily caused by a pressure anomaly between the Tibetan Plateau and Northern Eurasia, rather than by the gradient between the Siberian High and the Aleutian Low. As a result, the close association of surface temperature with winter monsoon strength on inter-annual scale as observed at present may not have established in the Late Miocene.

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Our climate model results suggest that a stronger-than-present winter monsoon wind may account for the cooler winter temperature in southern China and northern India in the Late Miocene as indicated by the proxy data. The strong winter monsoon wind in the Late Miocene can be attributed to the lower elevation of the northern Tibetan Plateau and mountains north of it. The modern-like winter monsoon variation may not have been established in the Late Miocene.
Our climate model results suggest that a stronger-than-present winter monsoon wind may account...
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