High regional climate sensitivity over continental China constrained by glacial-recent changes in temperature and the hydrological cycle
The East Asian monsoon is one of Earth's most significant climatic phenomena, and numerous paleoclimate archives have revealed that it exhibits variations on orbital and suborbital time scales. Quantitative constraints on the climate changes associated with these past variations are limited, yet are needed to constrain sensitivity of the region to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Here, we show central China is a region that experienced a much larger temperature change since the Last Glacial Maximum than typically simulated by climate models. We applied clumped isotope thermometry to carbonates from the central Chinese Loess Plateau to reconstruct temperature and water isotope shifts from the Last Glacial Maximum to present. We find a summertime temperature change of 6-7 °C that is reproduced by climate model simulations presented here. Proxy data reveal evidence for a shift to lighter isotopic composition of meteoric waters in glacial times, which is also captured by our model. Analysis of model outputs suggests that glacial cooling over continental China is significantly amplified by the influence of stationary waves, which, in turn, are enhanced by continental ice sheets. These results not only support high regional climate sensitivity in Central China but highlight the fundamental role of planetary-scale atmospheric dynamics in the sensitivity of regional climates to continental glaciation, changing greenhouse gas levels, and insolation.