Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

A warmer but drier Marine Isotope Stage 11 during the past 650 ka as revealed by the thickest loess on the western Chinese Loess Plateau


Marine Isotope Stage 11 (MIS 11; ca. 423–362 ka) is generally considered to be the best analogue for the present interglacial (Holocene), and investigation of it will improve our understanding of current climate variability and assist in predictions of future climate change. However, many recent studies primarily focus on the structure and duration of MIS 11. Little research has focused on climate warmth and stability recorded in the Chinese loess-paleosol sequences (LPS) during the S4 paleosol formation (equivalent to MIS 11). On the basis of previous work, this study presents a high-resolution record (ca. 75 a/cm) that spans from MIS 1 to MIS 15, as preserved in the thickest known Jingyuan loess section on the western Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP). This LPS is almost 165 m thick and was sampled from the upper part of L6 to the modern soil at 2-cm depth intervals. Measurements of magnetic susceptibility, mean grain size and >63 μm particle content, carbonate content, total organic carbon, and soil color of samples were made to reconstruct the paleoclimate variation, and a grain-size age model was used to constrain the chronological framework. The primary results show that a generally warm-humid climate dominated the S4 paleosol development, but the climate condition was extremely unstable during the whole of MIS 11. Two obviously different climate regimes controlled the MIS 11 climate variation: the early part of MIS 11 was extremely warm and stable, but the latter part was relatively cool (non-glacial) and unstable. This climate pattern was consistent with records on the central CLP and wavelet analysis suggested that it was forced by the 65°N insolation variability modulated by a quasi-100-ka cycle. In addition, a multi-proxy comparative study on the climate conditions during S0 to S5 paleosol development indicates that the period of S4 development might be the warmest interglacial of the past 650 ka. However, the climate condition during S4 development was not the most humid episode as recorded in Xifeng and Luochuan loess sections on the central CLP. On the contrary, it was drier than both the MIS 15 and the present interglacial on the western CLP, which is somewhat similar to the present climate pattern on the central CLP.

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