Table of Contents

Volume 541 Number 7636 pp133-252

12 January 2017

About the cover

An aerial view of the river Amazon, taken from the International Space Station, on 6 April 2016. The Amazon forest both responds to and drives much of the variability in climate and biogeochemistry from annual to millennial time scales. But highly resolved records of past climate variability in the region are hard to come by, and until now it has not been clear even whether the Amazon forest was wetter or drier during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Xianfeng Wang et al. have now collected oxygen isotope data covering the past 45,000 years from stalagmite calcite deposits in the Paraíso Cave in eastern Amazonia. Their data show that rainfall was about half that of today during the LGM (around 21,000 years ago) but was some 50% greater during the mid-Holocene (6,000 years ago), broadly coinciding with global changes in temperature and carbon dioxide. Although the Amazon was drier during the glacial period, the rainforest persisted throughout. Whether or not it can be sustained in the future, however, remains an open question. Cover: Tim Peake/ESA/NASA/Getty Images

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    • Hydroclimate changes across the Amazon lowlands over the past 45,000 years

      • Xianfeng Wang
      • R. Lawrence Edwards
      • Augusto S. Auler
      • Hai Cheng
      • Xinggong Kong
      • Yongjin Wang
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      Oxygen isotope records derived from stalagmites in the eastern Amazon reveal that rainfall was about half of today’s during the Last Glacial Maximum but half again as much during the mid-Holocene, broadly coinciding with global changes in temperature and carbon dioxide.

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