COG3 Seminar – Michael Griffiths (William Paterson University)
Cave records from Southeast Asia: Windows to past hydroclimate variability
Despite significant advances in our understanding of tropical Australasian monsoon climate variability over the past decade(s), we still know very little about the range and mechanisms of rainfall variability in Southeast Asia on orbital (~100,000-year) to millennial (~1000-year) timescales. As a result, state-of-the-art general circulation models have little data with which to validate simulations of past climate, thereby placing much uncertainty on future projections of monsoon variability. Given the large population of SE Asia who rely on the monsoon rains for agriculture and economic development, it is critical that we gain a better understanding on the factors that influence the monsoon climate. Over the past decade, my
colleagues and I have explored a host of cave systems in remote regions of SE Asia installing data-loggers and collecting stalagmites, with the overarching goals being to: i) better constrain modern processes controlling speleothem growth, and in particular, how they preserve above-cave climate changes; and ii) to build high-resolution and long records of past monsoon behavior from the geochemical signals preserved in these deposits. In this talk, I will discuss the utility of speleothems to accurately preserve past changes in regional SE Asian hydroclimate, and their strong potential in addressing current uncertainties in tropical climate variability over a range of timescales (i.e. glacial-interglacial to millennial), particularly with respect to how the Asian monsoon responded to past changes in Earth’s boundary conditions.