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During the last glacial termination, a warming trend was generally interrupted by rapid millennium-scale cold reversals, such as the Greenland (Isotope) Stadial 1 (GS-1) and GS-2a events. To understand how glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) responded to these rapid climate events, this study constrained the timing and extent of three glacial events during the late-glacial period. Specifically, using a cosmogenic 10Be exposure dating method, we dated three prominent glacial moraines (PM1, PM2, PM3) back to 15,850 ± 980, 14,140 ± 880, and 12,430 ± 790 yr in the Pagele valley, southern TP, corresponding to GS-2a, Greenland Interstadial 1 (GI-1), and GS-1, respectively. By simulating glacial extents forced by different climate scenarios, the study constrained the temperature decreases relative to present to be 2.6°C–2.9°C, ~1.6°C, and 1.4°C–1.5°C during the GS-2a, GI-1, and GS-1 periods in the region, with precipitation values of 60%–80%, ~100%, and 80%–90% of present value, respectively. Considering information from oceanic and atmospheric circulation, the study suggested that on the TP, the glacial events during the last glacial termination were well connected with the millennium-scale climate events in the North Atlantic region through the westerlies, while the Indian summer monsoon played a positive role in sustaining the glaciers under the warming climate trend.
The mass-balance of Muztag Ata No. 15 (MZ15) glacier in the eastern Pamir is reconstructed between 1980 and 2012 using an energy-based mass-balance model. The results show that this glacier has been characterized by obvious interannual mass-balance changes during 1980–2012 with a slightly positive mass balance during 1998–2012. Precipitation in the ablation season is a primary driver of these mass-balance fluctuations. Distinct changes in the mass-balance of MZ15 glacier between 1980–1997 and 1998–2012 are thought to be associated with changes in the regionally averaged meridional wind speed and corresponding precipitation in the ablation season. The negative and positive mass-balance phases during 1980–1997 and 1998–2012, respectively, were associated with northerly and southerly wind anomalies in the eastern Pamir and their corresponding decreasing and increasing precipitation. These changes in circulation appear to be linked to the mid-latitude climate. Finally, contrary to the variation of most glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau, glaciers in the Karakoram-western Kunlun-eastern Pamir appear to have retreated more slowly over the past 10 years than during the 1970s-2000. This contrasting trend may be caused by different changes in snowfall and different topography factors in different regions under warming and increased precipitation.
We investigate an internal surge of Karayaylak Glacier, which was reported by the media in May 2015. To differentiate the May 2015 glacier surge from other glacier advances, we surveyed changes in velocity, crevasses and glacier area using Landsat 8 OLI L1T, ZY-1-02C and Gaofen-1 images from October 2014 to July 2015. The velocity, measured by automatic feature extraction and tracking during the active phase, was 10–100 times the velocity during the quiescent phase, with a maximum of (20.2 ± 0.9) m d−1 (mean ± standard error) from 8 to 15 May 2015 in the west branch of the glacier. The surge initiation and termination took place from 13 April to 16 June 2015. Ice in the west branch (length, 7 km; area, 6.8 km2) of Karayaylak Glacier accelerated down to the east branch, leading to the development of crevasses and ice covering an additional 0.1 km2 of summer pasture on the northwestern side. However, we detected no advance of the glacier's terminus.
Stable isotopes are a primary tool for inferring past temperature changes and atmospheric moisture variability from ice cores. A 33 m ice core representing the period 1850–2004 was retrieved from the Tanggula Mountains, central Tibetan Plateau (5743 m a.s.l.), in August 2005. Annual average stable isotope (δ18O, δD) values generally increase during the period, while the second-order parameter of deuterium excess (d-excess) generally decreases. High annual average d-excess values (18.2‰) throughout the ice core suggest a significant contribution of continental recycled moisture. d-excess values shift from relatively higher values during 1850–1940 to lower values since the 1940s. Annual isotope values and reconstructed accumulation are compared with climate indices, local station temperature records and northern India monsoon precipitation. Significant correlation is observed between δ18O and the Southern Oscillation, NINO3.4 and Dipole Mode indices. Annual average d-excess values revealed a significant negative correlation with the Dipole Mode index. Results suggest a relatively greater contribution of westerly-dominated continental moisture prior to the 1940s and an increase in the contribution of moisture evaporated under more humid conditions since the 1940s.
Levoglucosan is a unique marker for biomass burning that can be transported in the atmosphere and preserved in archives such as ice cores. A new method to determine the concentrations of levoglucosan in Tibetan ice-core samples using high-performance liquid chromatography with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI/MS) was developed. Levoglucosan was separated from coeluting water-soluble organic compounds using a C18 column with a gradient program from 50% to 90% methanol in ultrapure water. An external standard calibration curve (R2 = 0.9958) was established by plotting the ion m/z 163 [M+H]+ peak area versus the amount of analyte. The repeatability ranges between 11% and 2% at a concentration around 10 and 150 ng mL−1. The limit of detection was 10 ng mL−1 and the limit of quantification was 40 ng mL−1. Levoglucosan concentrations ranged from 10 to 718 ng mL−1 in the Muztagh Ata ice core and from 10 to 93 ng mL−1 in the Tanggula ice core. These concentrations, up to 1000 times higher than those measured in samples from Antarctic and Greenland, showed the higher vulnerability of the Tibetan Plateau glaciers to biomass burning events.
The volume distribution of atmospheric dust particles (microparticles) of 1–30 μm diameter in Muztagata, Dunde, Dasuopu and Everest ice cores from the Tibetan Plateau was measured and fitted as a log-normal function in order to characterize their basic size properties. Our results reveal that whether the volume distribution fits the log-normal function or not largely depends on the dust concentration and the specific dust-storm event but is independent of physiographical location and season. Our results show only high-concentration samples obey the log-normal distribution in volume, with mode sizes ranging from 3 to 161 μm. The log-normal distribution was largely attributed to the mid-sized particles between 3 and 15 μm, which contribute most (>70%) of the total volume. The volume size distribution characteristics for mineral dust particles from ice cores reveal that the coarse particles might be common in the upper-level troposphere over the Tibetan Plateau. These dust size features are useful to advance our understanding of dust effects on climate, and provide clues to better characterize atmospheric dynamics over the Tibetan Plateau that will help to improve the current models.
Temperature variation on the Tibetan Plateau over the last 1000 years has been inferred using a composite δ18O record from four ice cores. Data from a new ice core recovered from the Puruogangri ice field in the central Tibetan Plateau are combined with those from three other cores (Dunde, Guliya and Dasuopu) recovered previously. The ice-core δ18O composite record indicates that the temperature change on the whole Tibetan Plateau is similar to that in the Northern Hemisphere on multi-decadal timescales except that there is no decreasing trend from AD 1000 to the late 19th century. The δ18O composite record from the northern Tibetan Plateau, however, indicates a cooling trend from AD 1000 to the late 19th century, which is more consistent with the Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction. The δ18O composite record reveals the existence of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age (LIA) on the Tibetan Plateau. However, on the Tibetan Plateau the LIA is not the coldest period during the last millennium as in other regions in the Northern Hemisphere. The present study indicates that the 20th-century warming on the Tibetan Plateau is abrupt, and is warmer than at any time during the past 1000 years.
In this study, an optimized two-step heating-gas chromatography system is used to measure elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC) content in snow and ice, with the ability to quantify the elemental and organic carbon species in a snow or ice sample of 60−80 g. In this system, OC and EC are transformed into CO2 in a stream of oxygen at 340°C and 650°C, respectively. The resulting CO2 is accumulated in two molecular-sieve traps, and then put into a gas chromatograph equipped with a flame ionization detector by heating the traps to 200°C in a helium stream. Background contamination (mainly caused by impurities in the oxygen stream) and accuracy are dominated by the variability of the blank loads on the pre-cleaned filters, which are 0.50 ± 0.04 (1σ) μgC for OC, and 0.38 ± 0.04 (1σ) μgC for EC. The system is suitable for snow and ice sample measurements, with the same precision as shown for the blank tests. EC and OC concentrations have been measured in snow samples collected from different glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau. The results allow quantification for the first time of the different carbonaceous particle contents on the Tibetan Plateau and other regions. The concentrations of EC and OC particles in snow show a clearly decreasing trend from east to west and from north to south on the plateau, excluding the Pamirs region. The highest mean EC content, 79.2 ngg-1, was found in the northeast region, and the lowest, 4.3 ngg-1, was found in the western Himalaya. We note that even slight surface melting results in fresh snow getting dirtier, especially in regions with higher pollution such as seen on a glacier in the Qilian Shan. Here, the EC and OC concentrations in the fresh snow average 6.6 and 87.5 ngg-1, but after 2 days of surface melting they increased to 52.6 and 195.5 ngg-1. This suggests that surface snow melting can reduce snow albedo due to the accumulation of carbonaceous particles.
Al, Mn, Rb, Sr, Ba, Cs, Bi and Sb were measured at various depth intervals of a 41.6 m firn/ ice core drilled at an elevation of 7010 m near the top of Muztagh Ata glacier, east Pamirs (38˚17’ N, 75˚06’ E), central Asia. These data, spanning the mid-1950s to 2000, were obtained by analyzing 101 sections using a sector-field double-focusing inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) instrument. This study provides the first time series for these metals from central Asia. Concentrations are 11.7–329 ng mL−1 for Al, 0.33–42.7 ng mL−1 for Mn, 0.42–17.8 ng mL−1 for Sr, 0.04–1.4 ng mL−1 for Rb, 0.18–10.4 ng mL−1 for Ba, 2–167 pg mL−1 for Cs, 2–51 pg mL−1 for Sb and 1–31 pg mL−1 for Bi. Large variations in metal concentrations were found during the study period. Pronounced increases in concentrations were observed for Sb and Bi from the mid-1960s to the beginning of the 1990s, suggesting increased anthropogenic sources of Sb and Bi in central Asia during the same period. However, the decrease of Sb and Bi concentrations during the mid- to late 1990s reflects a reduction in anthropogenic activities in central Asia.
In 1997, three ice cores were recovered from Dasuopu glacier on the northern slope of the central Himalaya. the first core, 159.9 m long, was drilled at 7000ma.s.l. down the flowline from the top of the col. the second core, 149.2m long, was drilled on the col at 7200ma.s.l. the third core, 167.7 m long, was also drilled on the col at 7200ma.s.l., 100 maway from the second core. the present paper discusses the δ18O and methane results reconstructed for the past 1000 years based on the second core. the δ18O can be interpreted as an air-temperature signal. the methane concentration is mainly representative of atmospheric methane concentration. Both δ18O and methane records show an obvious increasing trend in the past 1000 years. Methane concentration in the record is similar to the fluctuations of δ18O, decreasing during cold periods and increasing during warm periods. the Little Ice Age was well recorded in the core by both δ18O and methane. the coldest period appeared in the late 18th century, accompanied by a decrease in methane concentration. the abrupt methane-concentration increase starting after the 18th century is no doubt due to anthropogenic input. the observed methane-concentration decrease during World Wars I and II clearly demonstrates the importance of the anthropogenic input to atmospheric methane concentration if further measurements prove that it is a true atmospheric signal.
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