Asynchronous Holocene climatic change across China

Y. He, Wilfred H. Theakstone, Zhonglin Zhang, Dian Zhang, Tandong Yao, Tuo Chen, Yongping Shen, Hongxi Pang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A review of Holocene climatic variations in different parts of China shows that they were asynchronous. Proxy data from ice cores, pollen, loess, lacustrine sediments, and changes of sea and lake levels demonstrate that many warm and cold oscillations have occurred in China during the Holocene, including a most important climatic event known as the "Holocene optimum," a milder and wetter period, and that the duration and amplitude of the optimum period, as well as its start and end times, differed in different parts of China. Uplift of the Tibetan plateau over the past millions of years led to the development of the monsoon climate and to complex atmospheric circulation over continental China during the Holocene. As a result, the Holocene optimum began and terminated earlier in high-altitude regions of western China than at lower elevations in eastern China, and the amplitude of the variations was lower in the east. This suggests that the western higher-altitude areas were more sensitive to climatic change than were the eastern lower-altitude areas. Holocene climatic records in the Dunde and Guliya ice cores do not correspond. Inverse δ18O variations between the two cores indicate that the effects of climate and atmospheric processes on the stable isotopes at the two sites differed. The correlation between the isotopic composition of carbonates in lake deposits in western China and climatic variations is similar to that in the ice cores. The climatic resolution in ice cores and lake sediments is higher than that in other media. The lack of precise correspondence of climatic records constructed on the basis of proxy data from different parts of China is a result of the different locations and elevations of the sampling sites, the different resolutions of the source material, and the varied climatic conditions within China. Further work is needed to confirm both the conclusions and the inferences presented here. © 2003 University of Washington. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-63
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004


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