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Lake Level Reconstruction for 12.8–2.3 ka of the Ngangla Ring Tso Closed-Basin Lake System, Southwest Tibetan Plateau

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Adam M. Hudson*
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
Jay Quade
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
Tyler E. Huth
Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Guoliang Lei
College of Geographical Sciences, Fujian Normal University, Fujian 350007, China
Hai Cheng
Institute of Environmental Change, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an 710049, China Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Lawrence R. Edwards
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
John W. Olsen
School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
Hucai Zhang
College of Tourism and Geography, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail (A.M. Hudson).


We present a shoreline-based, millennial-scale record of lake-level changes spanning 12.8–2.3 ka for a large closed-basin lake system on the southwestern Tibetan Plateau. Fifty-three radiocarbon and eight U–Th series ages of tufa and beach cement provide age control on paleoshorelines ringing the basin, supplemented by nineteen ages from shell and aquatic plant material from natural exposures generally recording lake regressions. Our results show that paleo-Ngangla Ring Tso exceeded modern lake level (4727 m asl) continuously between ~ 12.8 and 2.3 ka. The lake was at its highstand 135 m (4862 m asl) above the modern lake from 10.3 ka to 8.6 ka. This is similar to other closed-basin lakes in western Tibet, and coincides with peak Northern Hemisphere summer insolation and peak Indian Summer Monsoon intensity. The lake experienced a series of millennial-scale oscillations centered on 11.5, 10.8, 8.3, 5.9 and 3.6 ka, consistent with weak monsoon events in proxy records of the Indian Summer Monsoon. It is unclear whether these events were forced by North Atlantic or Indian Ocean conditions, but based on the abrupt lake-level regressions recorded for Ngangla Ring Tso, they resulted in significant periodic reductions in rainfall over the western Tibetan Plateau throughout the Holocene.

Research Article
University of Washington

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