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Holocene temperature fluctuations in the northern Tibetan Plateau

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Cheng Zhao*
Department of Earth Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA
Zhonghui Liu
Department of Earth Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Eelco J. Rohling
School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia
Zicheng Yu
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA
Weiguo Liu
State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Science, Xi'an 710075, China
Yuxin He
Department of Earth Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Yan Zhao
MOE Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental System, Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
Fahu Chen
MOE Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental System, Research School of Arid Environment and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
*Corresponding author at: Department of Earth Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. E-mail (C. Zhao).


Arid Central Asia (ACA) lies on a major climatic boundary between the mid-latitude westerlies and the northwestern limit of the Asian summer monsoon, yet only a few high-quality reconstructions exist for its climate history. Here we calibrate a new organic geochemical proxy for lake temperature, and present a 45-yr-resolution temperature record from Hurleg Lake at the eastern margin of the ACA in the northern Tibetan Plateau. Combination with other proxy data from the same samples reveals a distinct warm–dry climate association throughout the record, which contrasts with the warm–wet association found in the Asian monsoon region. This indicates that the climatic boundary between the westerly and the monsoon regimes has remained roughly in the same place throughout the Holocene, at least near our study site. Six millennial-scale cold events are found within the past 9000 yr, which approximately coincide with previously documented events of northern high-latitude cooling and tropical drought. This suggests a connection between the North Atlantic and tropical monsoon climate systems, via the westerly circulation. Finally, we also observe an increase in regional climate variability after the mid-Holocene, which we relate to changes in vegetation (forest) cover in the monsoon region through a land-surface albedo feedback.

Original Articles
University of Washington

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