There appear to have been several important glacial advances on the southern slope of the west Kunlun mountains, Tibetan Plateau, since 45 000 a BP. Based on the record of alternating till and lacustrine sediments and 14C determinations, these advances are dated to 23 000–16 000, 8500–8000, and 4000–2500 a BP, and to the 16th–19th century AD, with regional variations occurring during each of the advances. The glaciation of 23 000–16 000 a BP is equivalent to the last glacial maximum (LGM) and its scope and scale were much larger than any of the others.
Lake changes are a response to both tectonic uplift of the plateau and global climatic change. With regard to the latter, both changes in precipitation and changes in the extent of glaciation can affect lake levels. High lake levels occurred during interstadial conditions between 40 000 and 30 000 a BP, when the area experienced a relatively warm and humid climate, and during the LGM, between 21 000 and 15 000 a BP. During the Holocene, lakes have been shrinking gradually, coincident with the dry climate of this period of time.