Hemispherically in-phase precipitation variability over the last 1700 years in a Madagascar speleothem record


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Quaternary Science Reviews

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Paleoclimate studies of tropical rainfall have led to a recognition of a predominant pattern of anti-phase behavior between the Northern and Southern hemispheres at both orbital and millennial timescales. Less certain is how regional tropical rainfall patterns have changed in the late Holocene, under boundary conditions and on timescales which are most relevant to the tropics' response to a warming world. Several high-resolution southern hemisphere rainfall records are at odds with meridional movement of the mean Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone location as the major driver of Holocene tropical rainfall variability, with regional precipitation patterns resembling modern day El-Niño Southern Oscillation end members. To test emerging ideas on sub-millennial tropical rainfall variability, additional records from the southern hemisphere are required. We present a new speleothem δ18O record from Anjohibe Cave, northwestern Madagascar, which provides a quasi-annual record of monsoonal strength and precipitation amount for the last 1700 years. The majority of δ18O variability in the record is at the decadal scale, and shows little to no correlation with major climate indices or cyclical climate drivers. At lower frequencies, changes in mean speleothem δ18O show good correlation with other regional precipitation records both north and south of the equator. The regional coherency of tropical rainfall across the west Indian Ocean resembles expansion and contraction of the tropical rain belt and positive-Indian Ocean Dipole-like conditions at different timescales. The cause of this coherency could be related to symmetrical changes in continental sensible heating, or to a low frequency sea surface temperature climate mode.

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