Mid- to Late-Holocene Australian–Indonesian summer monsoon variability

TitleMid- to Late-Holocene Australian–Indonesian summer monsoon variability
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsSteinke, S, Mohtadi, M, Prange, M, Varma, V, Pittauerova, D, Fischer, HW
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews

The Australian–Indonesian monsoon has a governing influence on the agricultural practices and livelihood in the highly populated islands of Indonesia. However, little is known about the factors that have influenced past monsoon activity in southern Indonesia. Here, we present a ∼6000 years high-resolution record of Australian-Indonesian summer monsoon (AISM) rainfall variations based on bulk sediment element analysis in a sediment archive retrieved offshore northwest Sumba Island (Indonesia). The record suggests lower riverine detrital supply and hence weaker AISM rainfall between 6000 yr BP and ∼3000 yr BP compared to the Late Holocene. We find a distinct shift in terrigenous sediment supply at around 2800 yr BP indicating a reorganization of the AISM from a drier Mid Holocene to a wetter Late Holocene in southern Indonesia. The abrupt increase in rainfall at around 2800 yr BP coincides with a grand solar minimum. An increase in southern Indonesian rainfall in response to a solar minimum is consistent with climate model simulations that provide a possible explanation of the underlying mechanism responsible for the monsoonal shift. We conclude that variations in solar activity play a significant role in monsoonal rainfall variability at multi-decadal and longer timescales. The combined effect of orbital and solar forcing explains important details in the temporal evolution of AISM rainfall during the last 6000 years. By contrast, we find neither evidence for volcanic forcing of AISM variability nor for a control by long-term variations in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).