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Hydroclimate change and its controlling factors during the middle to late Holocene and possible 3.7-ka climatic shift over East Asia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 May 2022

Jaesoo Lim*
Quaternary Environment Research Center, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, Daejeon, 34132, Republic of Korea Korea University of Science and Technology (UST), Daejeon, 34113, Republic of Korea
In-Kwon Um
Petroleum & Marine Research Division, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, Daejeon, 34132, Republic of Korea
Sangheon Yi
Quaternary Environment Research Center, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, Daejeon, 34132, Republic of Korea Korea University of Science and Technology (UST), Daejeon, 34113, Republic of Korea
Chang-Pyo Jun
Quaternary Environment Research Center, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, Daejeon, 34132, Republic of Korea
*Corresponding author email address: <>


The history of past hydroclimatic extreme events, essential information for predicting future changes, is preserved in fluvial sediments. Here, we reconstruct changes in decadal-scale extreme flooding events over the period 7700–1700 cal yr BP from floodplain sediments in the middle reach of the Nakdong River, Korea, based on lithogenic elemental ratios (e.g., Zr/Ti and Sr/Si). For example, Nakdong extreme flooding (NEF) events frequently occurred at 7700, 7200, 6000, 5000, 3800, 3200, 2900, 2600, 2300, 2000, and 1700 cal yr BP, and were associated with higher sea-surface temperatures and strong El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) activity. Notably, we found a significant change in the frequency of extreme events ca. 3700 cal yr BP over East Asia. The hydroclimate fluctuated with dominant periodicities of 950 and 540 years in 7700–3700 cal yr BP and shorter centennial to decadal cycles (320, 110–120, and 60–75 years) in 3700–1700 cal yr BP. This 3.7-ka climatic shift is consistent with a marked southward shift of the intertropical convergence zone, intensified ENSO activity, increased frequency of recurving typhoons, and deep-ocean circulation changes in both the northern and southern hemispheres, demonstrating the urgent need for investigating the critical role of past deep-water circulation in hydroclimate changes.

Research Article
Copyright © University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2022

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