Research Articles

Climatic and environmental change in Yanchi Lake, Northwest China since the Late Glacial:A comprehensive analysis of lake sediments

  • College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Center for Hydrologic Cycle and Water Resources in Arid Region, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
Li Yu (1981-), Ph.D and Associate Professor, specialized in long-term climate change and Holocene lake evolution in the marginal region of the Asian summer monsoon. E-mail:

Received date: 2013-03-25

  Revised date: 2013-04-20

  Online published: 2013-10-15

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41001116; The Fundamental Research Fund for the Central Universities, No.lzujbky-2013-127; No.lzujbky-2013-129


Modern climate research has shown that the Asian summer monsoon water vapor transport is limited to the eastern part of the Qilian Mountains. On the Holocene millennial-scale, whether the northwest boundary of the summer monsoon varies according to climate change is a key scientific issue. Yanchi Lake is located in the northern Qilian Mountains and the middle of the Hexi Corridor, where the modern climate is less affected by the Asian summer monsoon. It is a key research area for examining the long-term variations of the Asian summer monsoon. Paleoclimatic data, including AMS 14C dates of pollen concentrates and bulk organic carbon, lithology, grain-size, mineral composition and geochemical proxies were acquired from sediments of Yanchi Lake. The chronological results show that the lower part of the lacustrine section is formed mainly in the Late Glacial and early Holocene period, while the proxies' data indicate the lake expansion is associated with high content of mineral salts. The middle part of this section is formed during the transitional period of the early and middle Holocene. Affected by the reworking effect, the pollen concentrates AMS 14C dates from the middle part of the section are generally older than those from the lower part. Since the mid-Holocene, Yanchi Lake retreated significantly and the deposition rate dropped obviously. The Yanchi Lake record is consistent with the Late Glacial and Holocene lake records in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the climatic records in typical monsoon domain, which indicate the lake expansion and the strong Asian summer monsoon during the Late Glacial and early Holocene. The long-term monsoonal pattern is different from the lake evolution in Central Asia on the Holocene millennial-scale. This study proves the monsoon impacts on the northwestern margin of the summer monsoon, and also proves the fact that the northern boundary of the summer monsoon moves according to millennial-scale climate change.

Cite this article

LI Yu, WANG Nai'ang, LI Zhuolun, ZHOU Xuehua, ZHANG Chengqi . Climatic and environmental change in Yanchi Lake, Northwest China since the Late Glacial:A comprehensive analysis of lake sediments[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2013 , 23(5) : 932 -946 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-013-1053-3


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