Research Article

A 550,000-year record of East Asian monsoon rainfall from 10Be in loess

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Science  25 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6391, pp. 877-881
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam5825

Forcing the East Asian summer monsoon

What factors have controlled the intensity of the East Asian summer monsoon over the recent geological past? To answer this key question requires a robust proxy for rainfall amounts. Beck et al. measured the beryllium isotopic content of loess from China, from which they reconstructed a 550,000-year-long record of rainfall. Rainfall correlated with orbital precession and global variations in ice volume. This finding suggests that the monsoon is governed by low-latitude interhemispheric gradients in solar radiation levels, rather than by high-northern-latitude solar radiation levels as previously suggested.

Science, this issue p. 877