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Landscape evolution of the Ulan Buh Desert in northern China during the late Quaternary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Fahu Chen
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of West China's Environmental System, Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
Guoqiang Li
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of West China's Environmental System, Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
Hui Zhao
Affiliation:
Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
Ming Jin
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of West China's Environmental System, Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
Xuemei Chen
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of West China's Environmental System, Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
Yuxin Fan
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of West China's Environmental System, Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
Xiaokang Liu
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of West China's Environmental System, Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
Duo Wu
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of West China's Environmental System, Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
David Madsen
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of West China's Environmental System, Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

The evolution of arid environments in northern China was a major environmental change during the Quaternary. Here we present the dating and environmental proxy results from a 35 m long core (A-WL10ZK-1) collected from the Ulan Buh Desert (UBD), along with supplemental data from four other cores. The UBD is one of the main desert dune fields in China and our results indicate the UBD has undergone complex evolution during the late Quaternary. Most of the present UBD was covered by a Jilantai-Hetao Mega-paleolake lasting until ~ 90 ka ago. A sandy desert environment prevailed throughout the UBD during the last glacial period and early Holocene. A wetland environment characterized by the formation of numerous interdunal ponds in the northern UBD occurred at ~ 8–7 ka, although a dune field persisted in the southern UBD. The modern UBD landscape formed after these wetlands dried up. During the last 2000 years, eolian sand from the Badain Jaran Desert has invaded the northern UBD, while farming and overgrazing resulted in the formation of the eastern UBD. We suggest that the formation of UBD landforms is related to the disintegration of the megalake Jilantai-Hetao and to summer monsoon changes during the last glaciation and Holocene.

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University of Washington

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