BOTH the marine sediment record and numerical modelling of the atmospheric summer circulation over the northern Indian Ocean and southeast Asia have shown that the monsoonal climate exhibits a direct but nonlinear response to the intensity of solar insolation during summer, with a time lag of several thousand years1,2. Here we present evidence from a high-resolution record of oxygen isotopes and carbonate spanning the past 24,000 calendar years that the response of the southwest monsoon over the Arabian Sea to long-term, gradual insolation changes occurred in several distinct events of less than 300 years duration, at 14,300, 13,500, 13,060, 9,900, 8,800 and 7,300 C-14 yr BP. Thus, during this transitional period from glacial to post-glacial conditions the slow solar forcing seems to have induced very rapid changes in local climate. We speculate that the rapid response may be related to albedo changes in Asia.
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