Climate Science

First Warm, Then Wet

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Science  21 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6015, pp. 265
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6015.265-c

Data derived from Asian loess sequences and stalagmites from caves in China have provided a valuable record of changes in the East Asian monsoon since the Last Glacial Maximum but have not been equally informative about the relationship between the timing of monsoon precipitation and warming in that region. Knowing the relative timing of those changes is an important part of understanding how climate changed during the last deglaciation. Peterse et al. present a record of temperature in central China for the past 34,000 years, in an effort to better define its relation to monsoon activity there. They find that the intensification of east Asian summer monsoon precipitation lagged deglacial warming and the increase of Northern Hemisphere summer insolation by about 3000 years. Intense soil formation, which depends on both higher temperatures and available moisture, lagged deglacial warming by even longer, around 7000 years.

Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 301, 256 (2011).

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