Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2016, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (5): 388-399.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2016.00388

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A late Holocene winter monsoon record inferred from the palaeo-aeolian sand dune in the southeastern Mu Us Desert, northern China

Bing Liu1, HeLing Jin1,2, Fan Yang1   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China;
    2. State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2016-06-16 Revised:2016-08-13 Published:2018-11-23
  • Contact: HeLing Jin, Professor of Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences. No. 320, West Donggang Road, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China. Tel:+86-931-4967495;
  • Supported by:
    This research was funded by the Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. KZZD-EW-04-04), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos., 41271215, 41501220), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2015M570861), and the State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University (No. 2015-KF-13). We kindly thank Prof. Hua Zhao from the Institute of Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences for the determination of the OSL ages.

Abstract: The variation of the Asian winter monsoonal strength has seriously affected the climate and environmental conditions in the Asian monsoonal region, and even in marginal islands and the ocean in the East Asian region. However, relevant understanding remains unclear due to the lack of suitable geological materials and effective proxies in the key study areas. Here, we present a grain-size record derived from the palaeo-aeolian sand dune in the southeastern Mu Us Desert, together with other proxies and OSL dating, which reflect a relatively detailed history of the winter monsoon and abrupt environmental events during the past 4.2 ka. Our grain-size standard deviation model indicated that >224 μm content can be considered as an indicator of the intensity of Asian winter monsoon, and it shows declined around 4.2-2.1 ka, enhanced but unstable in 2.1-0.9 ka, and obviously stronger since then. In addition, several typical climate events were also documented, forced by the periodic variation of winter monsoonal intensity. These include the cold intervals of 4.2, 2.8, 1.4 ka, and the Little Ice Age (LIA), and relatively warm sub-phases around 3.0, 2.1, 1.8 ka, and the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), which were roughly accordant with the records of the aeolian materials, peat, stalagmites, ice cores, and sea sediments in various latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Combined with the previous progresses of the Asian summer monsoon, we preliminarily confirmed a millennial-scale anti-correlation of Asian winter and summer monsoons in the Late Holocene epoch. This study suggests that the evolution of the palaeo-aeolian sand dune has the potential for comprehending the history of Asian monsoon across the desert regions of the modern Asian monsoonal margin in northern China.

Key words: Late Holocene, winter monsoon, palaeo-aeolian sand dune, grain-size standard deviation model, Mu Us Desert

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