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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 27 Aug 2018

Research article | 27 Aug 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Speleothem Evidence for Megadroughts in the SW Indian Ocean during the Late Holocene

Hanying Li1, Hai Cheng1,2, Ashish Sinha3, Gayatri Kathayat1, Christoph Spötl4, Aurèle Anquetil André5, Arnaud Meunier5, Jayant Biswas6, Pengzhen Duan1, Youfeng Ning1, and R. Lawrence Edwards2 Hanying Li et al.
  • 1Institute of Global Environmental Change, Xi’an Jiaotong University, China
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA
  • 3Department of Earth Science, California State University Dominguez Hills, Carson, USA
  • 4Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Chicago, USA
  • 5Francois Leguat Giant Tortoise and Cave Reserve, Anse Quitor, Rodrigues Island, Mauritius
  • 6National Cave Research and Protection Organization, Raipur, 492001, India

Abstract. The 4.2kaBP event is widely described as a 200–300 years long interval of major climate anomaly (typically, arid and cooler conditions potentially across the globe), which defines the beginning of the current Meghalayan age in the Holocene epoch. The 4.2ka event however, has been disproportionately reported from proxy records situated at low-mid latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. Consequently, the climatic manifestation of the 4.2ka event in both spatial and temporal domains is still much less clear in Southern Hemisphere. This is particularly the case for the southwest sector of the southern Indian Ocean. Here we present high-resolution and chronologically well-constrained speleothem oxygen and carbon isotopes records of hydroclimate variability between ~6 and 3ka ago from Rodrigues Island, located in the southwest subtropical Indian Ocean, ~600km east of Mauritius. Our records reveal a major shift to drier condition at circa 4kaBP, which culminated into a multicentennial period of drought (i.e., megadrought) that lasted continuously from ~3.9 to 3.5kaBP. The inferred hydroclimatic conditions between 4.0 and 4.2kaBP, are however not distinctly distinguishable from the region’s mean hydroclimatic state over the length of our record. Because the precipitation variability at Rodrigues is distinctly modulated by meridional movement of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone and the El Nino Southern Oscillation dynamics, our proxy data may ultimately provide critical constraints in our understanding the timing and dynamical forcing of the 4.2ka event.

Hanying Li et al.
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