A 1,600 year record of paleoseasonality from the neotropics of Central America and its implications for rainfall predictability in agricultural societies

Keith Prufer, Sebastian Breitenbach, James Baldini, Tobias Braun, Erin Ray, Lisa Baldini, Victor Polyak, Franziska Lechleitner, Norbert Marwan, Douglas Kennett, Yemane Asmerom

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review

Abstract

For millions of people living in the humid neotropics seasonally predictable rainfall is crucial for agricultural success and food security. Understanding long-term stability and volatility of seasonal rainfall distributions should be of concern to researchers and policy makers. However, reconstructions of paleorainfall seasonality in the neotropics have been constrained by a lack of precisely dated and sub-annually resolved records. We present a 1,600-year rainfall paleoseasonality reconstruction from speleothem sample Yok G, from Yok Balum Cave located in southern Belize, Central America. Yok G grew continuously from 400 C.E. to 2,006 C.E. and its age is constrained by 52 U-series dates with a mean error of ~7 years. The isotope record consists of 7,151 δ18O and δ13C measurements at ~0.22-year resolution allowing us to detect the presence and amplitude of annual wet-dry cycles. In Belize rainfall distribution and seasonality controls are currently dominated by the annual migration of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) with marked meridional contrast. The Yok G record suggest distinct changes in seasonality at multi-centennial intervals. The earliest portion of the record (400-~850 C.E.) shows little intra-annual seasonal variation, the period from ~850-1400 C.E. has highly variable annual oscillations and periods of low seasonality, while the period from 1,400-2,006 C.E. shows well developed seasonal signals. Element ratios (Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca, and U/Ca) are used to assess Prior Carbonate Precipitation in the epikarst system. We review these changes and the isotopic record from Yok G and discuss tools for interpreting the stability and volatility in seasonal rainfall distributions and possible implications for past and modern agricultural societies.
Original languageEnglish
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2020
EventEGU2020: Sharing Geoscience Online - Online
Duration: 4 May 20208 May 2020
https://www.egu2020.eu/

Conference

ConferenceEGU2020: Sharing Geoscience Online
Period4/05/208/05/20
Internet address

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