Skip to main content Accessibility help

Constraints on Paleoclimate from 11.5 to 5.0 ka from Shoreline dating and Hydrologic Budget Modeling of Baqan Tso, Southwestern Tibetan Plateau

  • Tyler Huth (a1), Adam M. Hudson (a2), Jay Quade (a2), Lei Guoliang (a3) and Zhang Hucai (a4)...


14C dating of shoreline deposits of closed-basin lake Baqan Tso in the western Tibetan Plateau shows that lake level regressed from the undated highstand (46 m above modern, 4.3 × modern surface area) of likely earliest Holocene age by 11.5 ka, and remained larger than modern until at least ≈ 5.0 ka. The shoreline record broadly matches other regional climate records, with lake level closely following Northern Hemisphere summer insolation overprinted by sub-millennial lake-level oscillations. A model coupling modern land runoff and lake surface heat closely reproduces estimated modern precipitation of ≈ 240 mm/yr. We estimate that the Baqan Tso basin required ≈ 380 mm/yr precipitation to sustain the maximum early Holocene lake area, a 55% increase over modern. Precipitation increases, not glacial meltwater, drove lake-level changes, as Baqan Tso basin was not glaciated during the Holocene. Our estimate assumes early Holocene insolation (≈ 1.3% overall increase), and mean annual increases of 2°C in temperature, and 37% in relative humidity. We additionally developed a Holocene precipitation history for Baqan Tso using dated paleolake areas. Using the modern and early Holocene model results as end-members, we estimate precipitation in the western Tibetan Plateau which was 300–380 mm/yr between 5.0 and 11.5 ka, with error of ± 29–57 mm/yr (± 12–15%).


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. E-mail address: (T. Huth).


Hide All
An, Z., Porter, S.C., Kutzbach, J.E., Wu, X., Wang, S., Liu, X., Li, X., and Zhou, W. (2000). Asynchronous Holocene optimum of the East Asian monsoon.. Quat. Sci. Rev. 19, 743762. 10.1016/S0277-3791(99)00031-1.
Benson, L.V., and Paillet, F.L. (1989). The use of total lake-surface area as an indicator of climatic change: examples from the Lahontan Basin.. Quat. Res. 32, 262275.
Berger, A., and Loutre, M.F. (1991). Insolation values for the climate of the last 10 million years.. Quat. Sci. Rev. 10, (4), 297317.(1991).
Bond, G., nine others, (2001). Persistent solar influence on North Atlantic climate during the Holocene.. Science 294, 21302136.
Bookhagen, B. (2010). Appearance of extreme monsoonal rainfall events and their impact on erosion in the Himalaya.. Geomagn. Nat. Hazards Risk 1, 3750.
Brutsaert, W. (1975). On a derivable formula for long-wave radiation from clear skies.. Water Resour. Res. 11, (5), 742744.10.1029/WR011i005p00742.
Cai, Y., Zhang, H., Cheng, H., An, Z., Edwards, L., Wang, X., Tan, L., Liang, F., Wang, J., and Kelly, M. (2012). The Holocene Indian monsoon variability over the southern Tibetan Plateau and its teleconnections.. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 335–336, (2012), 135144.
Christensen, J.H., Hewitson, B., Busuioc, A., Chen, A., Gao, X., Held, I., Jones, R., Kolli, R.K., Kwon, W.-T., Laprise, R., Magaña Rueda, V., Mearns, L., Menéndez, C.G., Räisänen, J., Rinke, A., Sarr, A., and Whetton, P. (2007). Regional Climate Projections. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.. In: Solomon, S., Qin, D., Manning, M., Chen, Z., Marquis, M., Averyt, K.B., Tignor, M., Miller, H.L. (Eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
Conroy, J.L., and Overpeck, J.T. (2011). Regionalization of present-day precipitation in the greater monsoon region of Asia.. J. Clim. 24, 40734095. 10.1175/2011JCLI4033.1.
Demske, D., Tarasov, P.E., Wünneman, B., and Riedel, F. (2009). Late glacial and Holocene vegetation, Indian monsoon and westerly circulation in the Trans-Himalaya recorded in the lacustrine pollen sequence from Tso Kar, Ladakh, NW India.. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 279, 172185. 10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.05.008.
Döberschutz, S., Frenzel, P., Haberzettl, T., Kasper, T., Wang, J., Zhu, L., Daut, G., Schwalb, A., and Mäusbacher, R. (2014). Monsoonal forcing of Holocene paleoenvironmental change on the central Tibetan Plateau inferred using a sediment record from Lake Nam Co (Xizang, China).. J. Paleolimnol. 51, 253266. 10.1007/s10933-013-9702-1.
Dykoski, C.A., Edwards, L., Cheng, H., Yuan, D., Cai, Y., Zhang, M., Lin, Y., Qing, J., An, Z., and Revenaugh, J. (2005). A high-resolution, absolute-dated Holocene and deglacial Asian monsoon record from Dongge Cave, China.. Quat. Sci. Lett. 233, 7186.
Fleitman, D., Burns, S.J., Mudelsee, M., Neff, U., Kramers, J., Mangini, A., and Matter, A. (2003). Holocene forcing of the Indian monsoon recorded in a stalagmite from southern Oman.. Science 300, 17371739.
Gasse, F., Fontes, J.Ch., Van Campo, E., and Wei, K. (1996). Holocene environmental changes in Baggong Co basin (western Tibet). Part 4: discussion and conclusions.. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 120, 7982.
Gile, L.H., Peterson, F.F., and Grossman, R.B. (1966). Morphological and genetic sequences of carbonate accumulation in desert soils.. Soil Sci. 101, (5), 347360.
Gupta, A., Anderson, D.M., and Overpeck, J.T. (2003). Abrupt changes in the Asian southwest monsoon during the Holocene and their links to the North Atlantic Ocean.. Nature 421, 354357.
Gupta, A.K., Moumita, D., and Anderson, D.M. (2005). Solar influence on the Indian summer monsoon during the Holocene.. Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L17703 10.1029/2005GL022685.
Haginoya, S., Fujii, H., Kuwagata, T., Xu, J., Ishigooka, Y., Kang, S., and Zhang, Y. (2009). Air–lake interaction features found in heat and water exchanges over Nam Co on the Tibetan Plateau.. Scientific Online Letters on the Atmosphere 5, 172175. 10.2151/sola.2009-044.
Herzschuh, U. (2006). Paleo-moisture evolution in monsoonal Central Asia during the last 50,000 years.. Quat. Sci. Rev. 25, 163178.
Herzschuh, U., Winter, K., Wünneman, B., and Li, S. (2006a). A general cooling trend on the central Tibetan Plateau throughout the Holocene recorded by the Lake Zigetang pollen spectra.. Quat. Int. 154–155, 113121. 10.1016/j.quaint.2006.02.005.
Herzschuh, U., Kürschner, H., and Mischke, S. (2006b). Temperature variability and vertical vegetation belt shifts during the last ∼ 50,000 yr in the Qilian Mountains (NE margin of the Tibetan Plateau, China).
Hicks, B.B. (1972). Some evaluations of drag and bulk transfer coefficients over water bodies of different sizes.. Bound.-Layer Meteorol. 3, 201213.
Hostletler, S.W., and Bartlein, P.J. (1990). Simulation of lake evaporation with application to modeling lake level variations of Harney–Malheur Lake, Oregon.. Water Resour. Res. 26, (10), 26032612.
Hou, J., D'Andrea, W.J., and Liu, Z. (2012). The influence of 14C reservoir age on interpretation of paleolimnological records from the Tibetan Plateau.. Quat. Sci. Rev. 48, 6779.
Hudson, A.M., and Quade, J. (2013). Long-term east–west asymmetry in monsoon rainfall on the Tibetan Plateau.. Geology 41, 351354. 10.1130/G33837.1.
Hudson, A.M., Quade, J., Huth, T., Guoliang, L., Olsen, J.W., and Hucai, Z. (2014). Lake-level reconstruction for 2.3–12.8 ka for the Ngangla Ring Tso closed-basin lake system, southwest Tibetan Plateau.. Quat. Res 83, 6679.(in this issue).
Idso, S.B. (1981). A set of equations for full spectrum and 8- to 14-μm and 10.5- to 12.5-μm thermal radiation from cloudless skies.. Water Resour. Res. 17, (2), 295304. 10.1029/WR017i002p00295.
Kasper, T., Haberzettel, T., Doberschütz, S., Daut, G., Wang, J., Zhu, L., Nowaczyk, N., and Mäusbacher, R. (2012). Indian Ocean Summer Monsoon (IOSM)-dynamics within the past 4 ka recorded in the sediments of Lake Nam Co, central Tibetan Plateau (China).. Quat. Sci. Rev. 39, 7385.
Kondo, J., and Yamazawa, H. (1986). Bulk transfer coefficient over a snow surface.. Bound.-Layer Meteorol. 34, 123135.
Kong, P., Na, C., Fink, D., Huang, F., and Ding, L. (2007). Cosmogenic 10Be inferred lake-level changes in Sumxi Co basin, Western Tibet.. J. Asian Earth Sci. 29, 698703.
Kramer, A., Herzschuh, U., Mischke, S., and Zhang, C. (2010). Holocene treeline shifts and monsoon variability in the Hengduan Mountains (southeastern Tibetan Plateau), implications from palynological investigations.. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 286, 2341.
Kummerow, C., Barnes, W., Kozu, T., Shiue, J., and Simpson, J. (1998). The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) sensor package.. J. Atmos. Ocean. Technol. 15, 809817. 10.1175/1500-0426(1998)015<0809:TTRMMT>2.0.CO;2.
Kutzbach, J. (1980). Estimates of past climate at Paleolake Chad, North Africa, based on a hydrological and energy-balance model.. Quat. Res. 14, 210223.
Levin, I., Kromer, B., and Hammer, S. (2013). Atmospheric –14CO2 trend in Western European background air from 2000 to 2012.. Tellus B 65, 20092.
Li, Y., and Morrill, C. (2010). Multiple factors causing Holocene lake-level change in monsoonal and arid central Asia as identified by model experiments.. Clim. Dyn. 35, 11191132.
Li, B., Sumin, W., Liping, Z., and Yuanfang, L. (2001). 12 ka BP lakeenvironment on the Tibetan Plateau.. Sci. China 44, 324331.(Supp).
Li, L., Yang, S., Wang, Z., Zhu, X., and Tang, H. (2010). Evidence of warming and wetting climate over the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau.. Arct. Antarct. Alp. Res. 42, 449457. 10.1657/1938-4246-42.4.449.
Li, Q., Lu, H., Zhu, L., Wu, N., Wang, J., and Lu, X. (2011). Pollen-inferred climate changes and vertical shifts of alpine vegetation belts on the northern slope of the Nyainqentanglha Mountains (central Tibetan Plateau) since 8.4 kyr BP.. The Holocene 21, 939950.
Lu, X., Zhu, L., Nishimura, M., Morita, M., Watanabe, T., Nakamura, T., and Wang, Y. (2011). A high-resolution environmental change record since 19 cal ka BP in Pumoyum Co, southern Tibet.. Geol. 56, 29312940.
McCabe, G.J., and Markstrom, S.L. (2007). A monthly water-balance model driven by a graphical user interface.. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File report 2007-1088 (6pp.).
Mischke, S., Kramer, M., Zhang, C., Shang, H., Herzschuh, U., and Erzinger, J. (2008). Reduced early Holocene moisture availability in the Bayan Har Mountains, northeastern Tibetan Plateau, inferred from a multi-proxy lake record.. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 267, 5976.
Mischke, S., Weynell, M., Zhang, C., and Wiechert, U. (2013). Spatial variability of 14C reservoir effects in Tibetan Plateau lakes.. Quat. Int. 313-314, 147155.
Morrill, C. (2004). The influence of Asian summer monsoon variability on the water balance of a Tibetan Lake.. J. Paleolimnol. 32, 273286.
Morrill, C., Overpeck, J.T., Cole, J.E., Liu, Kam-bui, Shen, C., and Tang, L. (2006). Holocene variations in the Asian Monsoon inferred from the geochemistry of lake sediments in central Tibet.. Quat. Res. 65, 232243.
Mügler, I., Gleixner, G., Gunther, F., Mäusbacher, R., Daut, G., Schütt, B., Berking, J., Schwalb, A., Schwark, L., Xu, B., Yao, T., Zhu, L., and Yi, C. (2010). A multi-proxy approach to reconstruct hydrological changes and Holocene climate development of Nam Co, central Tibet.. J. Paleolimnol. 43, 625648.
Overpeck, J., Anderson, D., Trumbore, S., and Prll, W. (1996). The southwest Indian Monsoon over the last 18000 years.. Clim. Dyn. 12, 213225.
Owen, L.A. (2009). Latest Pleistocene and Holocene glacier fluctuations in the Himalaya and Tibet.. Quat. Sci. Rev. 28, 21502164. 10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.10.020.
Reimer, P., Baillie, L., Bard, E., Bayliss, A., Beck, W., Blackwell, G., Bronk Ramsey, C., Buck, E., Burr, S., Edwards, L., Friedrich, M., Grootes, M., Guilderson, P., Hajdas, I., Heaton, J., Hogg, G., Hughen, A., Kaiser, F., Kromer, B., McCormac, G., Manning, W., Reimer, W., Richards, A., Southon, R., Talamo, S., Turney, M., van der Plicht, J., and Weyhenmeyer, E. (2009). IntCal09 and Marine 09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0–50,000 years kcal BP.. Radiocarbon 51, 11111150.
Rupper, S., Roe, G., and Gillespie, A. (2009). Spatial patterns of Holocene glacier advance and retreat in Central Asia.. Quat. Res. 72, 337346.
Seong, B.Y., Owen, L.A., Yi, C., and Finkel, R.C. (2009). Quaternary glaciation of Muztag Ata and Kongur Shan: evidence for glacier response to rapid climate changes throughout the Late Glacial and Holocene in westernmost Tibet.. GSA Bull. 121, (3/4), 348365. 10.1130/B26339.1(March/April 2009).
Shen, J., Liu, X., Wang, S., and Ryo, M. (2005). Palaeoclimatic changes in the Qinghai Lake area during the last 18,000 years.. Quat. Int. 136, 131140.
Sinha, A., Cannariato, K.G., Stott, L.D., Li, H.C., You, C.F., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., and Singh, I.B. (2005). Variability of Southwest Indian summer monsoon precipitation during the Bølling–Ållerød.. Geology 33, 813816.
Stuiver, M., and Reimer, R.W. (1993). Extended 14C database and revised CALIB radiocarbon calibration program.. Radiocarbon 35, 215230.
Styron, R.H., Taylor, M.H., Sundell, K.E., Stockli, D.F., Oalmann, J.A.G., McAllister, A.T., Liu, D., and Ding, L. (2013). Miocene initiation and acceleration of extension in the South Lunggar rift, western Tibet: evolution of an active detachment system from structural mapping and (U–Th)/He thermochronology.. Tectonics 32, 10.1002/tect.20053.
Thornthwaite, C.W. (1948). An approach toward a rational classification of climate.. Geogr. Rev. 38, 5594.
Tian, L., Yao, T., MacClune, K., White, J.W.C., Schilla, A., Vaughn, B., Vachon, R., and Ichiyanagi, K. (2007). Stable isotopic variations in west China: a consideration of moisture sources.. J. Geophys. Res. 112, D10112 10.1029/2006JD007718.
Van Campo, E., and Gasse, F. (1993). Pollen- and diatom-inferred climatic and hydrological changes in Sumxi Co Basin (western Tibet) since 13,000 yr B.P.. Quat. Res. 39, 300313.
Wang, Y., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., Kong, X., An, Z., Wu, J., Kelly, M.J., Dykoski, C.A., and Li, X. (2005). The Holocene Asian Monsoon: links to solar changes and North Atlantic climate.. Science 308, 854857.
Wang, Y., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., Kong, X., Shao, X., Chen, S., Wu, J., Jiang, X., Wang, X., and An, Z. (2008). Millennial- and orbital-scale changes in the East Asian monsoon over the past 224,000 years.. Nature 451, 10901093. 10.1038/nature06692.
Wischnewski, J., Mischke, S., Wang, Y., and Herzschuh, U. (2011). Reconstructing climate variability on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau since the last Lateglacial–a multi-proxy, dual-site approach comparing terrestrial and aquatic signals.. Quat. Sci. Rev. 30, 8297.
Wolock, D.M., and McCabe, G.J. (1999). Explaining spatial variability in mean annual runoff in the conterminous United States.. Clim. Res. 11, 149159.
Wunneman, B., Demske, D., Tarasov, P., Kotlia, B.S., Reinhardt, C., Blowmendal, J., Diekmann, D., Hartmann, K., Krois, J., Riedel, F., and Arya, N. (2010). Hydrological evolution during the last 15 kyr in the Tso Kar lake basin (Ladakh, India), derived from geomorphological, sedimentological and palynological records.. Quat. Sci. Rev. 29, 11381155.
Yi, C., Chen, H., Yang, J., Liu, B., Fu, P., Liu, K., and Li, S. (2008). Review of Holocene glacial chronologies based on radiocarbon dating in Tibet and its surrounding mountains.. J. Quat. Sci. 23, 533543.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed