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Indonesian Throughflow drove Australian climate from humid Pliocene to arid Pleistocene
Adelphi Univ, Environm Studies Program, Garden City, NY 11530 USA..
Naturalis Biodivers Ctr, Leiden, Netherlands..
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Palaeobiology.
Univ Bremen, MARUM Ctr Marine & Environm Sci, Bremen, Germany.;Univ Bremen, Dept Geosci, Bremen, Germany..
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2017 (English)In: Geophysical Research Letters, ISSN 0094-8276, E-ISSN 1944-8007, Vol. 44, no 13, p. 6914-6925Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Late Miocene to mid-Pleistocene sedimentary proxy records reveal that northwest Australia underwent an abrupt transition from dry to humid climate conditions at 5.5 million years (Ma), likely receiving year-round rainfall, but after similar to 3.3 Ma, climate shifted toward an increasingly seasonal precipitation regime. The progressive constriction of the Indonesian Throughflow likely decreased continental humidity and transferred control of northwest Australian climate from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, leading to drier conditions punctuated by monsoonal precipitation. The northwest dust pathway and fully established seasonal and orbitally controlled precipitation were in place by similar to 2.4 Ma, well after the intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation. The transition from humid to arid conditions was driven by changes in Pacific and Indian Ocean circulation and regional atmospheric moisture transport, influenced by the emerging Maritime Continent. We conclude that the Maritime Continent is the switchboard modulating teleconnections between tropical and high-latitude climate systems. Plain Language Summary Australia is themost arid habitable continent on earth, however its climate is capable of dramatic changewith seasonalmonsoon rains in the otherwise arid northwest. We analyzed natural gamma radiation in a recently drilled borehole (IODP Expedition 356 Site U1463) off NW Australia to examine long-term climate changes over the last 6 million years. Based on variations in potassium, thorium and uranium, as well as common clay minerals, we show that the NW continent was more humid during the Pliocene period, between similar to 5.5 and 3.3 million years ago (Humid Interval), and became arid by the early Pleistocene, similar to 2.4 million years ago (Arid Interval). We attribute the Humid Interval to an expansion of warm surface waters in the western Pacific, supplying warm and moist air to the continent. As Australia moved north, the Maritime Continent (islands to the north) emerged, restricting the flow of warm surface currents from the Pacific (Indonesian Throughflow), resulting in drier conditions on land. The Arid Interval ushered in amodern-like Australian climate, with seasonal rainfall and dust storms, and a more modern Indian Ocean circulation. Our results show that the Maritime Continent is an important control on both Australian climate and Indian Ocean circulation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 44, no 13, p. 6914-6925
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Geology
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-332420DOI: 10.1002/2017GL072977ISI: 000406257400052OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-332420DiVA, id: diva2:1154455
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2011-4866, 2016-04434Available from: 2017-11-02 Created: 2017-11-02 Last updated: 2017-11-02Bibliographically approved

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Henderiks, Jorijntje

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