A δ13C record of late Quaternary climate change from tropical peats in southern India

R. Sukumar, R. Ramesh, R. K. Pant, G. Rajagopalan

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243 Citations (Scopus)


STABLE-ISOTOPE ratios of carbon in soils or lake sediments1-3 and of oxygen and hydrogen in peats4,5 have been found to reflect past moisture variations and hence to provide valuable palaeoclimate records. Previous applications of the technique to peat have been restricted to temperate regions, largely because tropical climate variations are less pronounced, making them harder to resolve. Here we present a δ13C record spanning the past 20 kyr from peats in the Nilgiri hills, southern India. Because the site is at high altitude (>2,000 m above sea level), it is possible to resolve a clear climate signal. We observe the key climate shifts that are already known to have occurred during the last glacial maximum (18 kyr ago) and the subsequent deglaciation. In addition, we observe an arid phase from 6 to 3.5 kyr ago, and a short, wet phase about 600 years ago. The latter appears to correspond to the Mediaeval Warm Period, which previously was believed to be confined to Europe and North America6,7. Our results therefore suggest that this event may have extended over the entire Northern Hemisphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-706
Number of pages4
Issue number6439
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Multidisciplinary


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