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Nature. 2016 Jun 30;534(7609):640-6. doi: 10.1038/nature18591.

The Asian monsoon over the past 640,000 years and ice age terminations.

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Institute of Global Environmental Change, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an 710049, China.
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.
Department of Earth Sciences, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, California 90747, USA.
Institut für Geologie, Universität Innsbruck, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.
State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China.
College of Geography Science, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China.
Earth Observatory of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, 639798 Singapore.


Oxygen isotope records from Chinese caves characterize changes in both the Asian monsoon and global climate. Here, using our new speleothem data, we extend the Chinese record to cover the full uranium/thorium dating range, that is, the past 640,000 years. The record's length and temporal precision allow us to test the idea that insolation changes caused by the Earth's precession drove the terminations of each of the last seven ice ages as well as the millennia-long intervals of reduced monsoon rainfall associated with each of the terminations. On the basis of our record's timing, the terminations are separated by four or five precession cycles, supporting the idea that the '100,000-year' ice age cycle is an average of discrete numbers of precession cycles. Furthermore, the suborbital component of monsoon rainfall variability exhibits power in both the precession and obliquity bands, and is nearly in anti-phase with summer boreal insolation. These observations indicate that insolation, in part, sets the pace of the occurrence of millennial-scale events, including those associated with terminations and 'unfinished terminations'.

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