We appreciate comments by Andy Thompson, Jess Adkins, and three anonymous reviewers. This work was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a Princeton Center for Theoretical Science Fellowship, and National Science Foundation Grant AGS-1049201. The program code for the simulations, based on the Flexible Modeling System of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, as well as the simulation results themselves, are available from the authors upon request.
Anderson, J. L., and Coauthors, 2004: The new GFDL global atmosphere and land model AM2–LM2: Evaluation with prescribed SST simulations. J. Climate, 17, 4641–4673.
Ashkenazy, Y., I. Eisenman, H. Gildor, and E. Tziperman, 2010: The effect of Milankovitch variations in insolation on equatorial seasonality. J. Climate, 23, 6133–6142.
Boos, W. R., and Z. Kuang, 2010: Dominant control of the South Asian monsoon by orographic insulation versus plateau heating. Nature, 463, 218–222.
Bordoni, S., 2007: On the role of eddies in monsoonal circulations: Observations and theory. Ph.D. dissertation University of California, 195 pp.
Bordoni, S., and T. Schneider, 2008: Monsoons as eddy-mediated regime transitions of the tropical overturning circulation. Nat. Geosci., 1, 515–519.
Braconnot, P., and Coauthors, 2007: Results of PMIP2 coupled simulations of the Mid-Holocene and Last Glacial Maximum—Part 1: Experiments and large-scale features. Climate Past, 3, 261–277.
Brayshaw, D. J., B. Hoskins, and E. Black, 2010: Some physical drivers of changes in the winter storm tracks over the North Atlantic and Mediterranean during the Holocene. Philos. Trans. Roy. Soc., 368A, 5185–5223.
Clemens, S. C., W. L. Prell, and Y. Sun, 2010: Orbital-scale timing and mechanisms driving Late Pleistocene Indo-Asian summer monsoons: Reinterpreting cave speleothem δ18O. Paleoceanography, 25, PA4207, doi:10.1029/2010PA001926.
Clement, A. C., A. Hall, and A. J. Broccoli, 2004: The importance of precessional signals in the tropical climate. Climate Dyn., 22, 327–341.
Cruz, F. W., and Coauthors, 2005: Insolation-driven changes in atmospheric circulation over the past 116,000 years in subtropical Brazil. Nature, 434, 63–66.
Cruz, F. W., and Coauthors, 2009: Orbitally driven east–west antiphasing of South American precipitation. Nat. Geosci., 2, 210–214.
Dayem, K., D. S. Battisti, G. H. Roe, and P. Molnar, 2010: Lessons learned from the modern monsoon applied to the interpretation of paleoclimate records. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 295, 219–230.
deMenocal, P., J. Ortiz, T. Guilderson, J. Adkins, M. Sarnthein, L. Baker, and M. Yarusinsky, 2000: Abrupt onset and termination of the African Humid Period: Rapid climate responses to gradual insolation forcing. Quat. Sci. Rev., 19, 347–361.
Frierson, D. M. W., 2007: The dynamics of idealized convection schemes and their effect on the zonally averaged tropical circulation. J. Atmos. Sci., 64, 1959–1976.
Held, I. M., 2000: The general circulation of the atmosphere. Fellows Project Rep. WHOI-2001-03, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, 179 pp. [Available online at https://darchive.mblwhoilibrary.org/handle/1912/15.]
Held, I. M., 2001: The partitioning of the poleward energy transport between the tropical ocean and atmosphere. J. Atmos. Sci., 58, 943–948.
Held, I. M., and A. Y. Hou, 1980: Nonlinear axially symmetric circulations in a nearly inviscid atmosphere. J. Atmos. Sci., 37, 515–533.
Held, I. M., T. L. Delworth, J. Lu, K. L. Findell, and T. R. Knutson, 2005: Simulation of Sahel drought in the 20th and 21st centuries. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 102, 17 891–17 896.
Herzschuh, U., 2006: Palaeo-moisture evolution in monsoonal central Asia during the last 50,000 years. Quat. Sci. Rev., 25, 163–178.
Hewitt, C. D., and J. F. B. Mitchell, 1998: A fully coupled GCM simulation of the climate of the mid-Holocene. Geophys. Res. Lett., 25, 361–364.
Hsu, Y.-H., C. Chou, and K.-Y. Wei, 2010: Land–ocean asymmetry of tropical precipitation changes in the mid-Holocene. J. Climate, 23, 4133–4151.
Huybers, P., and C. Wunsch, 2003: Rectification and precession signals in the climate system. Geophys. Res. Lett., 30, 2011, doi:10.1029/2003GL017875.
Jackson, C. S., and A. J. Broccoli, 2003: Orbital forcing of Arctic climate: Mechanisms of climate response and implications for continental glaciation. Climate Dyn., 21, 539–557.
Joussaume, S., and Coauthors, 1999: Monsoon changes for 6000 years ago: Results of 18 simulations from the Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project (PMIP). Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 859–862.
Khon, V. C., W. Park, M. Latif, I. I. Mokhov, and B. Schneider, 2010: Response of the hydrological cycle to orbital and greenhouse gas forcing. Geophys. Res. Lett.,37, L19705, doi:10.1029/2010GL044377.
Kutzbach, J. E., 1981: Monsoon climate of the early Holocene: Climate experiment with the Earth’s orbital parameters for 9000 years ago. Science, 214, 59–61.
Kutzbach, J. E., and P. J. Guetter, 1986: The influence of changing orbital parameters and surface boundary conditions on climate simulations for the past 18 000 years. J. Atmos. Sci., 43, 1726–1759.
Legrande, A. N., and G. A. Schmidt, 2009: Sources of Holocene variability of oxygen isotopes in paleoclimate archives. Climate Past, 5, 441–455.
Lindzen, R. S., and A. Y. Hou, 1988: Hadley circulations for zonally averaged heating centered off the equator. J. Atmos. Sci., 45, 2416–2427.
Merlis, T. M., 2012: The general circulation of the tropical atmosphere and climate changes. Ph.D. dissertation California Institute of Technology, 185 pp. [Available online at http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:07012011-191902511.]
Merlis, T. M., T. Schneider, S. Bordoni, and I. Eisenman, 2013a: Hadley circulation response to orbital precession. Part I: Aquaplanets. J. Climate, 26, 740–753.
Merlis, T. M., T. Schneider, S. Bordoni, and I. Eisenman, 2013b: Hadley circulation response to orbital precession. Part II: Subtropical continent. J. Climate, 26, 754–771.
O’Gorman, P. A., and T. Schneider, 2008: The hydrological cycle over a wide range of climates simulated with an idealized GCM. J. Climate, 21, 3815–3832.
Pausata, F. S. R., D. S. Battisti, K. H. Nisancioglu, and C. M. Bitz, 2011: Chinese stalagmite δ18O controlled by changes in the Indian monsoon during a simulated Heinrich event. Nat. Geosci., 4, 474–480.
Privé, N. C., and R. A. Plumb, 2007a: Monsoon dynamics with interactive forcing. Part I: Axisymmetric studies. J. Atmos. Sci., 64, 1417–1430.
Privé, N. C., and R. A. Plumb, 2007b: Monsoon dynamics with interactive forcing. Part II: Impact of eddies and asymmetric geometries. J. Atmos. Sci., 64, 1431–1442.
Ruddiman, W. F., 2008: Earth’s Climate: Past and Future. 2nd ed. W. H. Freeman and Company, 388 pp.
Schmidt, G. A., D. T. Shindell, and S. Harder, 2004: A note on the relationship between ice core methane concentrations and insolation. Geophys. Res. Lett.,31, L23206, doi:10.1029/2004GL021083.
Schneider, T., P. A. O’Gorman, and X. J. Levine, 2010: Water vapor and the dynamics of climate changes. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG3001, doi:10.1029/2009RG000302.
Schneider, T., S. D. B. Graves, E. L. Schaller, and M. E. Brown, 2012: Polar methane accumulation and rainstorms on Titan from simulations of the methane cycle. Nature, 481, 58–61.
Seager, R., N. Naik, and G. A. Vecchi, 2010: Thermodynamic and dynamic mechanisms for large-scale changes in the hydrological cycle in response to global warming. J. Climate, 23, 4651–4668.
Su, H., and J. D. Neelin, 2005: Dynamical mechanisms for African monsoon changes during the mid-Holocene. J. Geophys. Res.,110, D19105, doi:10.1029/2005JD005806.
Wang, X., A. S. Auler, R. L. Edwards, H. Cheng, E. Ito, and M. Solheid, 2006: Interhemispheric anti-phasing of rainfall during the last glacial period. Quat. Sci. Rev., 25, 3391–3403.
Wang, X., A. S. Auler, R. L. Edwards, H. Cheng, E. Ito, Y. Wang, X. Kong, and M. Solheid, 2007: Millennial-scale precipitation changes in southern Brazil over the past 90,000 years. Geophys. Res. Lett.,34, L23701, doi:10.1029/2007GL031149.
Wang, Y., and Coauthors, 2008: Millennial- and orbital-scale changes in the East Asian monsoon over the past 224,000 years. Nature, 451, 1090–1093.
Zhao, Y., and Coauthors, 2005: A multi-model analysis of the role of the ocean on the African and Indian monsoon during the mid-Holocene. Climate Dyn., 25, 777–800.
Note that GCM simulations with fixed sea surface temperature (SST), such as those in Kutzbach (1981) and Kutzbach and Guetter (1986), cannot capture this basic relationship between insolation, temperature, and humidity. The results of comprehensive coupled GCM simulations of the mid-Holocene confirm that this aspect of fixed SST simulations is problematic: in coupled GCM simulations, precession-forced changes in surface shortwave radiation are largely balanced by changes in evaporation, which increase the near-surface atmospheric humidity (Hewitt and Mitchell 1998; Zhao et al. 2005).