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Neoglacial Climate Anomalies and the Harappan Metamorphosis

Goisan, L; Orsi, WD; Coolen, M; Wuchter, C; Dunlea, AG; Thirumalai, K; Munoz, SE; ... Fuller, D; + view all (2018) Neoglacial Climate Anomalies and the Harappan Metamorphosis. Climate of the Past , 14 (11) pp. 1669-1686. 10.5194/cp-2018-37. Green open access

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Climate exerted constraints on the growth and decline of past human societies but our knowledge of temporal and spatial climatic patterns is often too restricted to address causal connections. At a global scale, the inter-hemispheric thermal balance provides an emergent framework for understanding regional Holocene climate variability. As the thermal balance adjusted to gradual changes in the seasonality of insolation, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone migrated southward accompanied by a weakening of the Indian summer monsoon. Superimposed on this trend, anomalies such as the Little Ice Age point to asymmetric changes in the extratropics of either hemisphere. Here we present a reconstruction of the Indian winter monsoon in the Arabian Sea for the last 6000 years based on paleobiological records in sediments from the continental margin of Pakistan at two levels of ecological complexity: sedimentary paleo-DNA reflecting water column environmental states and planktonic foraminifers sensitive to winter conditions. We show that strong winter monsoons between ca. 4,500 and 3,000 years ago occurred during an interval of weak interhemispheric temperature contrast, which we identify as the Early Neoglacial Anomaly (ENA), and were accompanied by changes in wind and precipitation patterns across the eastern Northern Hemisphere and Tropics. This coordinated climate reorganization may have helped trigger the metamorphosis of the urban Harappan civilization into a rural society through a push-pull migration from summer flood-deficient river valleys to the Himalayan piedmont plains with augmented winter rains. Finally, we speculate that time-transgressive landcover changes due to aridification of the Tropics may have led to a generalized instability of the global climate during ENA at the transition from the warmer Holocene Optimum to the cooler Neoglacial.

Type: Article
Title: Neoglacial Climate Anomalies and the Harappan Metamorphosis
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5194/cp-2018-37
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-37
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10047870
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