Projects Detail

Reading the Asian Monsoon Record

The Asian monsoon is one of the largest atmospheric flow systems on Earth affecting the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people. Intensive research has revealed astonishing evidence of major and commonly abrupt changes in the strength of the system during the most recent geological history. This evidence is largely based on precisely dated speleothem records. Although this monsoon „calendar" now extends back 640,000 years, the key proxy parameter, δ18O of speleothem calcite, remains incompletely understood, greatly limiting its use a quantifiably monsoon proxy.

In this project we will use a threefold approach to tackle this long-standing research question by combining innovative laboratory techniques including: stable isotope analyses of fluid inclusions; microthermometry of fluid inclusions, and; precise determinations of 17Oexcess of the calcite. Although this research involves substantial risks as it enters unchartered territory it holds the prospect of paving the way towards disentangling the atmospheric precipitation and the local temperature effects and will provide temperature and humidity records across intervals of major climate changes. These analyses, carried out along the main flow path of the Asian monsoon from northern India to Southeast China will eventually also yield important new constraints for the next generation of isotope-enabled general circulation models.

ÖAW Project 4011
P.i.: Christoph Spötl
Post-doc: Stacy Carolin (until 2020), Gabriella Koltai (since 2020)
Duration: 2018-2021

Hai Cheng (Xi'an Jiaotong University)
Yuri Dublyansky (our group)
Yves Krüger (Bergen University)