EGU22-396, updated on 05 Jun 2024
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Northwest Indian stalagmite shows evidence for recurring summer and winter droughts after 4.2 ka BP

Alena Giesche1, David A. Hodell1, Cameron A. Petrie2, Gerald H. Haug3, Jess F. Adkins4, Birgit Plessen5, Norbert Marwan6, Harold J. Bradbury1, Adam Hartland7, Amanda D. French7, and Sebastian F. M. Breitenbach8
Alena Giesche et al.
  • 1Godwin Laboratory for Palaeoclimate Research, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, United Kingdom (
  • 2Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3DZ, United Kingdom
  • 3Climate Geochemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz 55020, Germany
  • 4Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
  • 5Section Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ, Potsdam 14473, Germany
  • 6Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam 14473, Germany
  • 7Environmental Research Institute, School of Science, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Waikato, Hamilton 3216, New Zealand
  • 8Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK

We reconstructed changes in summer and winter precipitation using a well-dated (±18 years 2σ error) speleothem spanning 4.2-3.1 ka BP from Dharamjali Cave in the central Himalaya. The record was sampled at a sub-annual resolution for a suite of trace elements, as well oxygen and carbon stable isotopes. Calcium isotopes at decadal resolution provide additional hydroclimatic evidence. This DHAR-1 stalagmite records a 230-year period of increased drought frequency in both the summer and winter seasons after 4.2 ka BP, with aridity events centered on 4.19, 4.11 and 4.02 ka BP each lasting between 25 and 90 years. The data after 3.97 ka BP support a recovery in summer monsoon rainfall, peaking around 3.7 ka BP. The significance of this new record includes remarkable coherence between the moisture proxies over 4.2-3.97 ka BP in a well-dated record, which provides confidence in the duration of droughts and timing of monsoon recovery. It also places seasonal climate variability on a timescale relevant to human decision-making, which is particularly significant for this region nearby the Indus River Basin. The Indus Civilization reached its urban apex by 4.2 ka BP, and archaeologists have documented a shift in settlement locations, population, health, and agricultural strategies thereafter for a period of several centuries. This stalagmite record provides valuable insights into seasonal precipitation availability during a critical climatic and cultural transition phase.

How to cite: Giesche, A., Hodell, D. A., Petrie, C. A., Haug, G. H., Adkins, J. F., Plessen, B., Marwan, N., Bradbury, H. J., Hartland, A., French, A. D., and Breitenbach, S. F. M.: Northwest Indian stalagmite shows evidence for recurring summer and winter droughts after 4.2 ka BP, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-396,, 2022.