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2021, 13 (6) Online: 31 December 2021 Previous issue
  • Cryogenic wedges on the NE Qinghai-Tibet and Ordos Plateaus: Their characteristics, origin and OSL dating
  • Stuart A. Harris
  • DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2021.20100
  • 2021, Vol.13 (6): 463–473 Abstract ( 130) HTML ( 16) PDF (2478 KB) ( 139 )
  • Cryogenic wedges developed due to very cold, rather arid conditions during the maximum of the last cold event when the drying up of the neighboring China Sea resulted in the failure of the East Asian Monsoon. As the climate ameliorated and the Monsoon rains reappeared, ice-wedges developed. Further warming permitted thawing of the ice infillings accompanied by replacement of the ice by sediments partly from the host ground as well as from the surface by wind or sheet wash. In cases of extreme surface water flow on slopes after 10 ka B.P., small baydjarakhs typically c. 50 cm high developed, only to have the resulting hollows infilled by sediments carried by wind and/or sheet wash. These shallow structures form a network on top of many of the cryogenic wedges. This complex history makes dating the ages of the wedges difficult using OSL methodology. Unfortunately, past field work ignored the problem of the angle of the cut face to the direction of the wedge infilling when sampling the contents of the narrow wedges, resulting in potential contamination of the samples with the host sediment. Sampling of the larger deposits should be alright, but the likelihood of contamination makes the interpretation of the resulting OSL dates from the narrow wedges questionable. Primary wedges consisting of primary mineral infillings should still have similar OSL dates with depth for a given wedge, but the distinction between ice-wedge infillings and soil wedges is difficult since both can exhibit older dates of the infillings with depth. The available data suggests that ice-wedges were significantly more common than sediment-filled primary wedges. A protocol to avoid having to obtain large numbers of OSL dates by more careful field sampling and the use of grain size determinations is provided in the Appendix.

  • High-precision measurements of the inter-annual evolution for Urumqi Glacier No.1 in eastern Tien Shan, China
  • ChunHai Xu,ZhongQin Li,JianXin Mu,PuYu Wang,FeiTeng Wang
  • DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2021.20094
  • 2021, Vol.13 (6): 474–487 Abstract ( 145) HTML ( 21) PDF (13475 KB) ( 172 )
  • High-precision measuring of glacier evolution remains a challenge as the available global and regional remote sensing techniques cannot satisfactorily capture the local-scale processes of most small- and medium-sized mountain glaciers. In this study, we use a high-precision local remote sensing technique, long-range terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), to measure the evolution of Urumqi Glacier No.1 at an annual scale. We found that the dense point clouds derived from the TLS survey can be used to reconstruct glacier surface terrain, with certain details, such as depressions, debris-covered areas, and supra-glacial drainages can be distinguished. The glacier experienced pronounced thickness thinning and continuous retreat over the last four mass-balance years (2015-2019). The mean surface slope of Urumqi Glacier No.1 gradually steepened, which may increase the removal of glacier mass. The glacier was deeply incised by two very prominent primary supra-glacial rivers, and those rivers presented a widening trend. Extensive networks of supra-glacial channels had a significant impact on accelerated glacier mass loss. High-precision measuring is of vital importance to understanding the annual evolution of this type of glacier.

  • Satellite-measured water vapor isotopologues across the Tianshan Mountains, central Asia
  • ShengJie Wang,Yang Song,MingJun Zhang,Athanassios A. Argiriou,YuDong Shi
  • DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2021.21001
  • 2021, Vol.13 (6): 488–495 Abstract ( 105) HTML ( 6) PDF (4476 KB) ( 160 )
  • The satellite-based water vapor stable isotope measurements have been widely used in modern hydrological and atmospheric studies. Their use is important for arid areas where the precipitation events are limited, and below-cloud evaporation is strong. This study presents the spatial and temporal characteristics of water vapor isotopologue across the Tianshan Mountains in arid central Asia using the NASA Aura Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES). The near-surface water vapor stable isotopes are enriched in summer and depleted in winter, consistent with the seasonality of precipitation isotopes. From the surface to 200 hPa, the isotope values in water vapor show a decreasing trend as the atmospheric pressure decreases and elevation rises. The vapor isotope values in the lower atmosphere in the southern basin of the Tianshan Mountains are usually higher than that in the northern basin, and the seasonal difference in vapor isotopes is slightly more significant in the southern basin. In addition, bottom vapor isotopologue in summer shows a depletion trend from west to east, consistent with the rainout effect of the westerly moisture path in central Asia. The isotopic signature provided by the TES is helpful to understand the moisture transport and below-cloud processes influencing stable water isotopes in meteoric water.

  • Climate response and radial growth of Pinus tabulaeformis at different altitudes in Qilian Mountains
  • Liang Jiao,ChangLiang Qi,RuHong Xue,Ke Chen,XiaoPing Liu
  • DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2021.20080
  • 2021, Vol.13 (6): 496–509 Abstract ( 128) HTML ( 14) PDF (6796 KB) ( 170 )
  • In order to test whether the relationship between climate and the radial growth of trees is affected by altitude, altitude variability and time stability of climate-influenced radial growth of a dominant conifer, Chinese pine (Pinus tabulaeformis), in the eastern Qilian Mountains were studied against the background of climate change using dendrochronology. Results show that 1) droughts at the end of the growing season of last year and during the early and middle growing season of the current year were the main limiting factors for the radial growth of Chinese pine at two altitude gradients; this was determined by analyzing the relationship between tree-ring width chronologies and climate factors. 2) The sensitivity of the radial growth of trees to climate change gradually decreased and was affected more by drought stress at a lower altitude. 3) An unstable divergence response was observed in the radial growth at the two altitudes, in response to controlling climatic factors; this observation was based on the moving correlation analysis of growth/climate relationships, and the aggravation of drought stress caused by increasing temperature was the main reason. 4) The growth rate of Chinese pine at the two altitudes increased at first and then decreased, as measured by basal area increment (BAI) modeling. Future temperature rises may have significant effects on mountain forest ecosystems in arid and semi-arid regions. Effective management and protection measures should be taken, according to the response patterns of trees to climate change at different altitude gradients.

  • Long-term effects of gravel-sand mulch thickness on soil microbes and enzyme activities in semi-arid Loess Plateau, Northwest China
  • ChengZheng Zhao,YaJun Wang,Yang Qiu,ZhongKui Xie,YuBao Zhang
  • DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2021.21012
  • 2021, Vol.13 (6): 510–521 Abstract ( 112) HTML ( 13) PDF (4732 KB) ( 123 )
  • In semi-arid areas of China, gravel and sand mulch is a farming technique with a long history. In this study, a sample survey was conducted on long term gravel sand mulch observational fields in the Northwest Loess Plateau to determine the effects of long term mulch on soil microbial and soil enzyme activities. We found that after long term gravel-sand mulch, compared with bare ground, soil organic matter, alkali nitrogen, conductivity decreased, while pH and soil moisture increased. Urease, saccharase and catalase decreased with increased mulch thickness, while alkaline phosphatase was reversed. The results of Illumina MiSeq sequencing shows that after gravel-sand mulch, the bacterial and fungal community structure was different from bare land, and the diversity was reduced. Compared with bare land, the bacteria Proteobacteria and Acidobacteria abundance increased with increased thickness, and Actinobacteria was opposite. Also, at the fungal genus level, Fusarium abundance was significantly reduced, and Remersonia was significantly increased, compared with bare land. Redundancy analysis (RDA) revealed that soil environmental factors were important drivers of bacterial community changes. Overall, this study revealed some of the reasons for soil degradation after long term gravel-sand mulch. Therefore, it is recommended that the addition of exogenous soil nutrients after long term gravel-sand can help improve soil quality.

  • Seasonal variation of airborne fungi of the Tiantishan Grottoes and Western Xia Museum, Wuwei, China
  • YuLong Duan,FaSi Wu,DongPeng He,RuiHong Xu,HuYuan Feng,Tuo Chen,GuangXiu Liu,WanFu Wang
  • DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2021.20102
  • 2021, Vol.13 (6): 522–532 Abstract ( 100) HTML ( 13) PDF (4500 KB) ( 160 )
  • In this study, a systematic survey of cultural airborne fungi was carried out in the occurrence environments of wall paintings that are preserved in the Tiantishan Grottoes and the Western Xia Museum, China. A bio-aerosol sampler was used for sampling in four seasons in 2016. Culture-dependent and -independent methods were taken to acquire airborne fungal concentration and purified strains; by the extraction of genomic DNA, amplification of fungal ITS rRNA gene region, sequencing, and phylogenetic analysis, thereafter the fungal community composition and distribution characteristics of different study sites were clarified. We disclosure the main environmental factors which may be responsible for dynamic changes of airborne fungi at the sampling sites. The concentration of cultural airborne fungi was in a range from 13 to 1,576 CFU/m3, no significant difference between the two sites at the Tiantishan Grottoes, with obvious characteristics of seasonal variation, in winter and spring were higher than in summer and autumn. Also, there was a significant difference in fungal concentration between the inside and outside of the Western Xia Museum, the outside of the museum was far more than the inside of the museum in the four seasons, particularly in the winter. Eight fungal genera were detected, including Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Filobasidium as the dominant groups. The airborne fungal community structures of the Tiantishan Grottoes show a distinct characteristic of seasonal variation and spatial distribution. Relative humidity, temperature and seasonal rainfall influence airborne fungal distribution. Some of the isolated strains have the potential to cause biodeterioration of ancient wall paintings. This study provides supporting information for the pre-warning conservation of cultural relics that are preserved at local sites and inside museums.