In the Indian monsoon region, both speleothem δ18Oc and Arabian Sea marine records are believed to reflect the intensity of the Indian summer monsoon, but there is a significant phase difference in the precession band between these two kinds of records, coined as the “land-sea precession phase paradox”. This call for further investigations to figure out how the Indian summer monsoon varied during the Holocene and more studies need to improve the understanding of the climate meaning of speleothem δ18Oc
This study provides stalagmite Q5 multi-proxy records from Qunf Cave, southern Oman, focusing on critical issues: (1) What is the hydroclimate significance of Qunf δ18Oc variation? (2) What is the local hydroclimate variation pattern across the Holocene? (3) What is the relation between the Qunf δ18Oc record and North Hemisphere summer insolation (NHSI)? (4) Is precipitation at Qunf Cave sourced from single or multiple moisture sources? The study used the EC-Earth climate model to conduct climate simulation experiments of 8 ka BP (8K) and pre-industrial period (PI) respectively and compare their differences.
Moisture Source Change
Q5 δDfi, Δ′17O and the relative humidity of moisture source area reconstructed by Δ′17O indicate that the moisture sources or their climate characteristics changed at ~6 ka BP. By comparing 8K and PI simulation results, we found that while the moisture from the Arabian Sea prevails in southern Oman, the North African summer monsoon also contributes water vapor to the area to some extent during the early to middle Holocene.
Afro-Asian monsoon system
The monsoons over the African continent and the Indian Ocean exhibit remarkably similar hydroclimate trends during the middle to late Holocene. This suggests that they were sensitive to, or driven by, a common forcing mechanism, i.e., Northern Hemisphere summer insolation, on suborbital timescales. More broadly, the entire North African summer monsoon and Asian summer monsoon (Indian summer monsoon and East Asian summer monsoon) may be viewed as a large unified summer monsoon system. Therefore, the two monsoon systems can be regarded as a “super monsoon” system, that is, the Afro-Asian monsoon system.
Qunf δ18Oc record shows the Holocene hydroclimate variation of the Afro-Asian monsoon regime. During the early to middle Holocene, Qunf Cave received more remote moisture brought by the North African summer monsoon, and the precipitation δ18Op was lighter, causing negative speleothem δ18Oc values. From ~6 ka BP to the late Holocene, only the Indian summer monsoon provided near-source moisture to Qunf Cave, and the precipitation amount decreased, resulting in heavy speleothem δ18Oc values.
Local Hydroclimate change
Qunf (234U/238U)0, δ13C and trace element ratios (Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca, Ba/Ca) reflect the local hydroclimate conditions. They show a slightly increased or unchanged effective precipitation (precipitation-evaporation) at Qunf Cave over the Holocene, consistent with our model simulation results.