Climatic conditions recorded by terrestrial mollusc assemblages in the Chinese Loess Plateau during marine oxygen isotope Stages 12-10

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Quaternary Science Reviews
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Past analogs for our present interglacial have been sought for better understanding of our present and future climate. Marine Isotope Stage 11 (MIS 11) has long been considered to be a good candidate and has gained increasing attention in recent studies of marine and terrestrial records. In the Chinese loess-paleosol sequences, S4 soil, interpreted as equivalent to MIS 11, yields a very precise terrestrial paleoclimate record of environmental changes that prevailed during this period. In this study, two high-resolution terrestrial mollusc records from the Loess Plateau have been analyzed to characterize climate variability during the periods of MIS 12-10. The changes in environment and climate, indicated by the variations in abundance of land mollusc species, are thus documented. Our mollusc results show that the L5 loess, equivalent of MIS 12, developed under relatively cold and dry conditions. Climate during this period was not as severe as indicated in the marine isotopic records. An episode of warmer and more humid condition occurred at the middle stage of the MIS 12, reflecting a summer monsoon strengthened during the glacial interval. A similar scenario has been observed in the middle part of MIS 10. In addition, our mollusc records provide insight into the climate conditions over the Loess Plateau during MIS 11, a general warm-humid climate dominated during the formation of S4 soil. But at least four fluctuations occurred fat Xifeng region, reflecting unstable climate conditions and regional climate differences within the Loess Plateau during this period. Our study shows that the early part of S4, spanning over 30 ka, was very warm and humid, while the late part was characterized by mild-cool conditions. Comparison of mollusc species compositions of both MIS 11 and Holocene intervals reveals different climate conditions. The early part of MIS 11 was warmer and more humid than the Holocene optimum period, while the late part of MIS 11 was similar or cooler. Our study indicates that the extent of warming during the Holocene in the Loess Plateau might be significantly less than the conditions that prevailed during the MIS 11 interglacial period. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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