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It is important to know how much of the increased atmospheric CO2 is derived from fossil fuel emissions. Here, we review the progress in atmospheric fossil fuel CO2 (CO2ff) tracing over recent years by measurement of Δ14C in Chinese cities. In this paper we make progress by expanding the analysis from some locations to more regional views, by combining observations with modeling, and by making a preliminary comparison of observation-derived CO2ff with inventory-derived CO2ff. We have obtained a general picture of Chinese urban CO2ff and characteristics of its spatio-temporal variations at different scale, and identified the corresponding influencing factors. Interestingly, we found that the weekend effect of CO2ff was less evident in Chinese cities. In addition, we observed simultaneous variations in CO2ff and PM2.5 in a winter haze event in Beijing and a simultaneous decrease in annual averages of CO2ff and PM2.5 in Xi’an based on multi-year (2011–2016) Δ14CO2 monitoring. We found that local coal combustion was the main source of CO2ff in Xi’an, which is located in the Guanzhong basin, by applying a WRF-Chem model and looking at δ13C signatures. Thus, reduction of coal consumption is a crucial target for carbon emissions reduction in China.
Lacustrine sediments are important archives for paleoclimate research, but there are evident carbon reservoir effects. Radiocarbon (14C) ages of lake sediments must be corrected for these effects before applying them to paleoclimate research. The authors review the lacustrine research from the last 20 years from different climatic regions in China, and systematically investigate the 14C age and correction methods used in the studies of 81 lakes. It is found that the climate-vegetation cover and distribution of carbonate around lakes are dominant factor controlling radiocarbon reservoir effects. In eastern China, the average 14C reservoir age is about 500 14C years and is associated with relatively dense vegetation. However, in northwest China and Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, widespread carbonate bedrock may markedly increase the radiocarbon reservoir age which frequently is about 1500 and 2500 14C years. A piecewise linear regression model provides more reliable 14C reservoir age correction that accounts for sedimentary facies and sedimentation rate changes. It is worth mentioning that when analyzing 14C ages deviated greatly from time sequence, the age anomalies may indicate important effects relevant to the study of climate and environmental changes.
Seasonal climate variability is an important component of Earth's climate system, and has a significant impact on ecosystems and social systems. However, the temporal resolution of most proxy-based paleoclimate records is limiting to fully understand the past seasonal changes. Here, we used high-precision monthly resolution Sr/Ca records of three Tridacna squamosa specimens from the northern South China Sea (SCS) to reconstruct the sea surface temperature (SST) seasonality during three time periods from the middle Holocene. The results suggested that SST seasonality in the northern SCS during the middle Holocene (3.21 ± 0.98°C) was smaller than that for recent decades (AD 1994–2004, 4.32 ± 0.59°C). Analysis of modern instrumental data showed that the SST seasonality in the northern SCS was dominated by the winter SST, which was deeply influenced by the intensity of East Asian winter monsoon (EAWM). A strong EAWM usually resulted in cooler winter SST and a larger SST seasonality in the northern SCS. The reconstructed Holocene EAWM records showed that the EAWM strengthened from the middle to late Holocene, which was seen in our reconstruction of less SST seasonality changes during the middle Holocene in the northern SCS. This study highlighted that the Sr/Ca ratios from Tridacna shells can be used as a potential high-resolution indicator of past seasonal climate changes.
With the popularization of carbon and nitrogen stable-isotope analysis methods used on archaeological samples from Xinjiang, the ancient paleodiet there has been revealed. However, research about isotopic analysis combined with environmental factors is rare, especially in such a variable and complex climate as that of the Tianshan region. We systematically analyzed the δ13C and δ15N results from animals and humans for dietary reconstruction of nomadic pastoralists from the Tianshan region during 3900–1200 cal BP. The δ13C and δ15N values for animals (sheep/goat, horse and cattle; n = 57) have a wide range from –20.8‰ to –14.7‰ for δ13C (–19.2 ± 1.0‰) and 3.2‰ to 9.9‰ for δ15N (7.0 ± 1.2‰). The δ13C and δ15N values from humans range from –19.6 to –12.3‰ (–16.0 ± 1.5‰) and 7.1 to 16.7‰ (–13.6 ± 1.5‰), respectively. The animal δ15N results indicate that the dry environment in the Tianshan region may result in elevated δ15N values. Synthesizing animal and human isotope results suggests that the inhabitants engaged in mobile herding economies subsidized with crops and wild animal meat from the Tianshan Mountains. In conclusion, we found that the regional environment closely relates to crop types, and temporal climate change has an effect on human dietary structure. Therefore, climate condition cannot be ignored when studying human paleodiet.
The Inner Mongolian Plateau lies along the northern limit reached by the East Asian summer monsoon. This geographic setting makes it especially sensitive to environmental change and an excellent site for understanding Quaternary East Asian monsoon variability. In this study we present new results of hydrogen isotopic compositions of fatty acids extracted from sediments, which were used to construct Holocene paleoprecipitation (or moisture) changes in Northern China. The hydrogen isotopic composition (D/H ratio) of n-acids in the sedimentary sequence of the Duoerji peat, Inner Mongolia, was determined with gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Changes in the precipitation from middle Inner Mongolia are recorded by the D/H ratio of n-C20, n-C22, n-C24, n-C26, n-C28 acids (δD). From 10–9 ka, the relatively high δD values indicate reduced precipitation in the Early Holocene. Subsequently, increased precipitation is reflected by reduced δD values from 9–5.5 ka. After 5.5 ka, gradually increasing δD values record an overall decrease in precipitation. The precipitation trends established for the Duoerji sequence are consistent with other major paleoclimate proxies in the East Asian monsoon region, especially with a distinct Holocene optimum of increased monsoonal activity from 9–5.5 ka. The δD resulting paleo-precipitation record clearly shows that the Holocene climate in Northern China is basically controlled by the insolation changes.
We present radiocarbon (14C) measurements of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) from surface waters of 11 lakes, widely distributed in China. Surface lake water DIC F14C values show distinct differences, and we relate these to the physical exchange character (“open” or “closed”) of each lake. Open lakes studied here generally have lower DIC F14C values than closed lakes. We present a simple model of a lake water cycle to calculate an average residence time for each lake. Comparisons between lake DIC F14C and average residence time shows that the DIC F14C increases with the average residence time and reflects a steady-state.
We identified human paleodietary changes from inhabitants of the Guanzhong basin since 8000 BP, based on published carbon and nitrogen isotopic measurements on bones, fauna and plant remains. We also directly measured 14C ages, δ13C and δ15N values from bones unearthed at the Zhouyuan site, west of Guanzhong, in order to reconstruct paleodietary changes of the ancient inhabitants. We found that during the Laoguantai period, animal foods were the main source of nourishment with supplementary plant-derived foods. After this period, plant-derived foods became the main food source, with supplementary animal sources. The development of dry farming led to increased consumption of foxtail millet and broomcorn millet. This trend persisted and marked a fundamental shift from hunting, gathering, and fishing to farming and animal domestication. The dietary trends of the ancient inhabitants also show pronounced regional differences through time. The use of domestic animals was proportionally higher in the eastern part of the Guanzhong region, while wild animals were more common in the west.
We have used correlative analysis between mean December–January–February winter wind velocities, measured at the Xisha Meteorological Observatory (16°50′N, 112°20′E) in the middle of the South China Sea, and mean δ18O data for the corresponding month from Porites lutea coral, collected in Longwan waters (19°20′N, 110°39′E), to obtain a linear equation relating the two datasets. This winter wind velocity for the South China Sea (WMIIscs) can then be correlated to the coral δ18O by the equation WMIIscs = −1.213–1.351 δ18O (‰ PDB), r = −0.60, n = 40, P = 0.01. From this, the calculated WMIIscs-δ18O series from 1944 to 1997 tends to decrease during the 1940s to the 1960s; it increases slightly during the 1970s and then decreases again in the 1980s and 1990s. The calculated decadal mean WMIIscs-δ18O series had a obvious decrease from 5.92 to 4.63 m/s during the period of 1944–1997. The calculated yearly mean WMIIscs-δ18O value is 5.58 m/s from 1944 to 1976 and this decreases to 4.85 m/s from 1977 to 1998. That is the opposite trend to the observed yearly mean SST variation. The yearly mean SST anomaly is −0.27° from 1943 to 1976 and this increases to +0.16° from 1977 to 1998. Spectral analysis used on a 54-year-long calculated WMIIscs-δ18O series produces spectral peaks at 2.4–7 yr, which can be closely correlated with the quasibiennial oscillation band (QBO band, 2–2.4 yr) and the El Ñino southern oscillation band (ENSO band, 3–8 yr). Hence most of the variability of the winter monsoon intensity in the middle of the South China Sea is mainly constrained by changes in the thermal difference between the land and the adjoining sea area, perhaps due to global warming.
High-resolution paleomonsoon proxy records from peat and eolian sand–paleosol sequences at the desert–loess transition zone in China denote a rapid oscillation from cold–dry conditions (11,200–10,600 14C yr B.P.) to cool–humid conditions (10,600–10,200 14C yr B.P.), followed by a return to cold–dry climate (10,200–10,000 14C yr B.P.). Variations in precipitation proxies suggest that significant climatic variability occurred in monsoonal eastern Asia during the Younger Dryas interval. Late-glacial climate in the Chinese desert–loess belt that lies downwind from Europe was strongly influenced by cold air from high latitudes and from the North Atlantic via the westerlies. The inferred precipitation variations were likely caused by variations in the strength of the Siberian high, which influenced the pressure gradient between land and ocean and therefore influenced the position of the East Asian monsoon front.
The Baxie loess section, just east of the Tibetan Plateau, contains evidence showing that the Asian monsoon climate experienced an abrupt reversal near the end of the last glacial age. Rapid deposition of dust under cool, dry full-glacial conditions gave way to an interval of soil development and reduced dust influx attributed to a strengthening of the warm, moist summer monsoon. A subsequent abrupt increase in dust deposition, a response to a weakening of the summer monsoon, was later followed by renewed soil formation as summer monsoon circulation again intensified during the early Holocene. By one interpretation, the thin upper loess is a manifestation of the European Younger Dryas oscillation; however, in this case the available 14C ages require either that (1) onset of loess deposition lagged the beginning of the Younger Dryas event in Europe by as much as 2000 calibrated 14C years or (2) all the 14C ages are too young, possibly due to contamination. Alternatively, the late-glacial paleosol, the top of which is synchronous with the abrupt end of the late-glacial δ18O anomaly in the Dye 3 Greenland ice core, records the Younger Dryas event. Such an interpretation is consistent with general circulation model simulations of Younger Dryas climate that show strong seasonality and a strengthened summer monsoon, and with marine cores from the western Pacific Ocean that contain evidence of pronounced cooling of surface waters during Younger Dryas time.
Eighteen radiocarbon-dated eolian and paleosol profiles within a 1500-km-long belt along the arid to semi-arid transition zone of north-central China record variations in the extent and strength of the East Asian summer monsoon during the Holocene. Dated paleosols and peat layers represent intervals when the zone was dominated by a mild, moist summer monsoon climate that favored pedogenesis and peat accumulation. Brief intervals of enhanced eolian activity that resulted in the deposition of loess and eolian sand were times when strengthened winter monsoon conditions produced a colder, drier climate. The monsoon variations correlate closely with variations in North Atlantic drift-ice tracers that represent episodic advection of drift ice and cold polar surface water southward and eastward into warmer subpolar water. The correspondence of these records over the full span of Holocene time implies a close relationship between North Atlantic climate and the monsoon climate of central China.
Computer models suggest that the Holocene Optimum for East Asian summer monsoon precipitation occurred at different times in different regions of China. Previous studies indicate that this time-transgressive Holocene Optimum should have been experienced about 3000 yr ago in southern China. In this study we describe a section which allows us to test this timing directly. We have closely examined high-resolution eutrophic peat/mud sequences covering the past 18,000 cal yr at Dahu, Jiangxi, on the southern boundary of the mid subtropical zone in China. Late Pleistocene successions in the Dahu record indicate cooler and much wetter conditions relative to synchronous events in north-central China. Our results indicate that the Holocene Optimum occurred between ca. 10,000 and 6000 cal yr ago in southern China, consistent with the global pattern. Conditions were relatively dry and cold from 6000 to 4000 cal yr ago. Our data also support the conclusion that the last deglaciation to early Holocene in the south was much wetter, resulting in the formation of dense broad-leaved forests, which could have acted to moderate land temperature ∼10,000 to 6000 cal yr ago, yielding a stable early-Holocene climate. After 6000 cal yr, forest reduction led to unstable land temperatures, and possibly to a northerly shift of the subtropical high-pressure system. Whatever the mechanism, these changes resulted in decreased precipitation between 6000 and 4000 cal yr B.P. in southern China.
Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is the most sensitive method for measuring 129I in environmental samples available today, with a detection limit of about 10–15 for 129I/127I. A drawback of the technique is the time-consuming chemical separation required to prepare AMS targets from raw samples. This step significantly limits applications requiring rapid analyses and large numbers of samples, for example, in monitoring studies associated with nuclear accidents. This work introduces a direct method for 129I measurements by AMS that does not require chemical separation. In this approach, stable iodine (127I) is added to a matrix of niobium (Nb) powder and mixed with dried raw sample. This mixture is pressed directly into a sputter target for AMS analysis. Two types of environmental samples have been tested in this work, seaweed and sediment. No anomalous behavior was noted in the Cs+ sputtering behavior of the targets prepared from these materials. The 129I/127I ratios and 129I concentrations measured by this rapid method were found to be in agreement with reported values that used a conventional AMS method for the same material. Based on our findings, we expect that such rapid measurements can be applied to a wide variety of materials, in addition to seaweed and sediment, as long as the sputtering-induced adverse effects do not prevent the stable operation of the ion source. The method is especially useful for screening large numbers of samples before more precise analyses are made.
Exposure age dating using in situ10Be and 26Al is a very useful technique for dating fluvial terraces. This is especially true in semiarid regions where other methods suffer from a paucity of suitable dating materials. This article describes sample preparation procedures and analytical benchmarks established at the Xi’an Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Center for the study of in situ10Be and 26Al. Four intercomparison samples were analyzed in the study, using an improved sample preparation method. The exposure age results are shown to be in good agreement with published data, and demonstrate the reliability of the dating method. This article also presents new 10Be and 26Al results from quartz samples collected from a series of fluvial terraces from Guanshan River, along the Qilian Shan, northeastern Tibetan Plateau. The ages of three fluvial terraces from the Jinfosi site are shown to be (56.4±5.3) ka for T3, (10.7±1.0) ka for T2, and (7.2±1.0) ka for T1. The dating results are consistent with published data from the same region (10Be, 14C, and optically stimulated luminescence dating methods). A comparison of high-resolution climate records with age constraints for the terrace formation shows a close relationship between terrace formation and climate change.
This article discusses the magnitude and rate of change of radiocarbon reservoir ages from the surface ocean in the South Pacific during the Holocene. 14C reservoir ages are calculated from paired U/Th and 14C measurements. Seventeen pairs of coral dates were determined from samples collected on Rendova and Tetepare Islands, in the Solomon Islands, and from Espiritu Santo Island, Vanuatu. The samples are all Holocene in age, with 230Th ages ranging from about 400 to 9400 BP. Samples were collected as drill cores or surface outcrops. About half of the surface samples appear to have incorporated modern carbon through postdepositional recrystallization. Two of the core samples were also affected by carbon exchange. The Holocene 14C reservoir ages observed in this data set show stable values for the last 3000 yr, and substantial variability from 5000–6000 BP (~100 to ~950 14C yr). Persistent low values (<200 14C yr) were observed for samples from 7000–8000 BP. We attribute these variations to temporal changes in lateral advection and vertical mixing, and possibly to local environmental conditions related to the interplay between sea-level rise and episodic uplift, characteristic of all the coral localities.
Radiocarbon accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) techniques were used to date total organic carbon and plant seeds in the lFs core sequence (36°48′N, 100°08′E) from Qinghai Lake, China. This core was drilled ∼18 m into Qinghai Lake sediments as part of an international cooperative research project, “Scientific Drilling at Qinghai Lake in the Northeastern Tibetan Plateau: High-Resolution Paleoenvironmental Records of Eastern Asia Linked to Global Change,” which began in 2004. Based on the differences in lithology and total organic content (TOC) in core lFs, the core was divided into 3 sections for age-modeling purposes: the upper ∼499 cm lacustrine silty clay to clay; the middle unit of silty clay with silt layers from 499–901 cm; and the lower 901–1861 cm silty clay, loess-like silt, and fine sand layers. Three different approaches are applied to the reservoir age problem. First, a simple linear regression gives an offset of 1342 yr. If the core is divided into three sections, linear regressions can be applied separately for the three segments, which results in an age estimate for the average hardwater effect of ∼135 yr BP for the surface section up to 499 cm. If extrapolated for deeper sections, these results imply a higher reservoir offset for those two sections, which may be as much as 1143 and 2523 yr, but this assumes that there are no discontinuities in the core. A third approach using a wiggle-matching approach gave an offset of 196 yr. This study concludes that the reservoir age of Qinghai Lake is complex, but these new data add to our understanding of the 14C chronology of Qinghai Lake for the last 32 ka.
The chemical extraction of soil organic carbon (SOC) fractions from soils often does not produce satisfactory results for radiocarbon dating. In this study, a sequential pyrolysis technique was investigated. The soil was pyrolyzed at temperatures of 200, 400, 600, and 800 °C to partition organic carbon into pyrolytic volatile (Py-V) and pyrolytic residue (Py-R) fractions. The preliminary results show that the 14C dates of both fractions become progressively older as the pyrolysis temperature is increased. In addition, the ages of the Py-V fractions are consistently younger than the corresponding Py-R fractions extracted at the same temperature. Experimental results of known-age paleosol samples indicate that the Py-V fractions obtained between 600 and 800 °C yield the most reliable ages. This technique provides a new approach to improve the accuracy of 14C dating of loess-paleosol sequences.
Paleoenvironmental and paleogeomagnetic tracing studies from Chinese loess 10Be have progressed in recent years (Zhou et al. 2007a,b, 2010). In this approach, 10Be flux determined from sediment concentration and accumulation rate may be used to recover information about paleomonsoon rainfall rates as well as past variations in the geomagnetic field strength. However, these methods require that a correction be made for residual undecayed 10Be in remobilized dust. To better understand the feature of the 10Be signals related to the remobilized dust, we report the first observational study on 10Be concentration of modern falling dust using the 3MV multi-element accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) in the Xi'an AMS Center. Ten samples collected at Ansai observation station (109°19′E, 36°51′N) in northern China from May 2008 to June 2009 are measured along with 3 chemical blanks. The results clearly show that the 10Be content of modern falling dust is relatively uniform, with a mean value of 1.21 x 108 atoms/g, a measurement similar to that of Chinese loess (Zhou et al. 2007a) and to the value found in the study by Shen et al. (2009) on dust 10Be falling near Dingbian, China (1.25 ± 0.06 x 108 atoms/g). Despite the fact that modern dust flux is much higher in spring relative to summer in northern China, 10Be concentration in falling dust remains fairly constant. In addition, we find that dust 10Be concentration is roughly independent of the local precipitation changes. This feature might be considered as an analogue to improve our understanding on the fundamental information of the source component contained in loess 10Be records and its spatial/temporal distribution features.