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1000 years of climatic change in China: ice-core δ18O evidence

  • P. N. Lin (a1), L.G. Thompson (a1), M.E. Davis (a1) and E. Mosley-Thompson (a1)

Abstract

Since 1987, ice cores have been drilled from the Dunde and Guliya ice caps on the Tibetan Plateau, western China. Here, the oxygen isotopic (δ18O) records for the last 1000 years from both these cores are compiled and compared. Using surface temperature observations since the mid-1960s from meteorological stations on the plateau and δ18O measured on precipitation collected contemporaneously, the empirical relationship: δ18O = 0.6 T s – 12 is established. δ18O appears to serve as a reasonable proxy for regional surface temperatures and a reasonable basis for reconstructing 1000a proxy temperature records from Dunde and Guliya. The reconstructed temperature histories for Dunde (on the eastern Tibetan Plateau) and Guliya (on the western Tibetan Plateau) show some centennial-scale similarities, but reveal quite different histories for higher-frequency variability over the last millennium. The ice-core δ18O histories from Dunde and Guliya are compared with a tree-ring index from western China and the dust-fall record from eastern China, but show no consistent relationship. The most prominent similarity between the reconstructed temperature histories for Dunde and Guliya is the marked warming of the last few decades. From the 1000a perspective provided be these ice-core records, the recent warming on Dunde is unique in its strength and persistence; however, the warming on Guliya (inferred from 18O enrichment) is more recent (since 1985) and not unprecedented. This recent warming over the Tibetan Plateau is evident in the limited meteorological records.

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1000 years of climatic change in China: ice-core δ18O evidence

  • P. N. Lin (a1), L.G. Thompson (a1), M.E. Davis (a1) and E. Mosley-Thompson (a1)

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