Research Articles

Palaeovegetational and palaeoenvironmental changes since the last deglacial in Gonghe Basin, northeast Tibetan Plateau

  • 1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China;
    2. Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China

Received date: 2012-06-12

  Revised date: 2012-11-01

  Online published: 2013-02-07


Paleoenvironmental history in the monsoonal margin in the northeast Tibetan Plateau provides important clue to the regional climate. Previous researches have been limited by either poor chronology or low resolution. Here we present a high-resolution pollen record from a 40.92-m-long sediment core (DLH) taken from Dalianhai, a terminal lake situated in the Gonghe Basin, the northeast Tibetan Plateau for reconstructing the vegetation and climate history since the last deglacial on the basis of a chronology controlled by 10 AMS 14C dates on plant remains preserved in the core sediments. The pollen assemblages in DLH core can be partitioned into 6 pollen zones and each zone is mainly characterized by the growth and decline of tree or herb pollen percentage. During the periods of 14.8-12.9 ka and 9.4-3.9 ka, the subalpine arboreal and local herbaceous pollen increased, indicating the subalpine forest developed in the surrounding mountains and a desert steppe or typical steppe developed in Gonghe Basin under a relatively moister climate. During the periods of 15.8-14.8 ka, 12.9-9.4 ka and 3.9-1.4 ka, the forest shrank or disappeared according to different degrees of aridity, and the desert steppe degraded to a more arid steppe desert in the basin, indicating a dry climate. After 1.4 ka, vegetation type around Dalianhai was mainly dominated by steppe suggested by increased Artemisia. Our results suggested the climate history in this region was dry from 15.8-14.8 ka, humid from 14.8-12.9 ka and dry from 12.9-9.4 ka, after which the climate was humid during 9.4-3.9 ka, followed by dry conditions during 3.9-1.4 ka and humid conditions in the last 1.4 ka. The change of pollen percentage and the evolution of palaeovegetation in Dalianhai since the last deglacial were similar to those recorded in Qinghai Lake. The forest expanded in the mountains around Dalianhai during the B?lling-Aller?d period, shrank during the Younger Dryas and the early Holocene, then it developed and reached its maximum in the mid-Holocene. During the late Holocene, the vegetation began to shrink till disappearance. However, the timing of forest expansion in the Holocene lagged behind that of Qinghai Lake, and this spatial heterogeneity was probably caused by the different forest species between these two places. The maximum of forest development in the mid-Holocene was inconsistent with the period of stronger summer monsoon in the early Holocene indicated by stalagmite records, the reason might be related to the complexity of vegetation response to a large-scale climatic change.

Cite this article

CHENG Bo, CHEN Fahu, ZHANG Jiawu . Palaeovegetational and palaeoenvironmental changes since the last deglacial in Gonghe Basin, northeast Tibetan Plateau[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2013 , 23(1) : 136 -146 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-013-0999-5


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