The Indian Summer Monsoon from a Speleothem δ18O Perspective—A Review

Nikita Kaushal, Sebastian Breitenbach, Franziska A. Lechleitner, Ashish Sinha, Vinod C. Tewari, Syed Masood Ahmad, Max Berkelhammer, Shraddha Band, Madhusudan Yadava, Regaswamy Ramesh, Gideon M. Henderson

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As one of the most prominent seasonally recurring atmospheric circulation patterns, the Asian summer monsoon (ASM) plays a vital role for the life and livelihood of about one-third of the global population. Changes in the strength and seasonality of the ASM significantly affect the ASM region, yet the drivers of change and the varied regional responses of the ASM are not well understood. In the last two decades, there were a number of studies reconstructing the ASM using stalagmite-based proxies such as oxygen isotopes (δ18O). Such reconstructions allow examination of ASM drivers and responses, increasing monsoon predictability. In this review paper, we focus on stalagmite δ18O records from India at the proximal end of the ASM region. Indian stalagmite δ18O records show well-dated, high-amplitude changes in response to the dominant drivers of the ASM on orbital to multi-centennial timescales, and indicate the magnitude of monsoon variability in response to these drivers. We examine Indian stalagmite records collated in the Speleothem Isotope Synthesis and AnaLysis version 1 (SISAL_v1) database ( and support the database with a summary of record quality and regional climatic interpretations of the δ18O record during different climate states. We highlight current debates and suggest the most useful time periods (climatic events) and locations for further work using tools such as data-model comparisons, spectral analysis methods, multi-proxy investigations, and monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-45
Number of pages25
Issue number3
Early online date7 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


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