The Plateau Monsoon variation during the past 130 kyr revealed by loess deposit at northeast Qinghai-Tibet (China)

Huayu Lu, Xiaoyong Wang, Haizhou Ma, Hongbing Tan, Jef Vandenberghe, Xiaodong Miao, Zhen Li, Youbin Sun, Zhisheng An, Guangchao Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Climate in northeast Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is characterised by the alternation of summer and winter monsoon circulation, which is generated by thermodynamic and kinetic effects of the immense plateau. The Plateau Monsoon system during the recent geological past has been investigated through a 44-m loess-paleosol section and a 17-m well to obtain the Plateau Monsoon climate changes during the last glacial-interglacial cycle. Thermoluminescence (TL) and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) methods, as well as field observations and stratigraphic correlation, are used to date the deposit. Magnetic susceptibility (MS), frequency-dependent magnetic susceptibility (FMS), and calcium carbonate content, which are regarded as proxy indicators of strength of the Plateau Summer Monsoon (PSM), are measured. Measurement of grain size distribution, which is regarded as a proxy index of strength of the Plateau Winter Monsoon (PWM), is also carried out. The results show that changes of the unique Plateau Monsoon system during the past 130 kyr are associated with the glacial and interglacial alternations in the Northern Hemisphere. The PSM was unusually strengthened during a period matching the marine oxygen isotope stage 5e (OIS 5e), but it was weak during the OIS 5a and OIS 5c, and was close to that of the OIS 3. The PWM was significantly depressed during OIS 3, and was as weak as that in the Holocene. The PWM and PSM circulations were not always coupled during the last glacial cycle. Changes of the Plateau Monsoon system did not always parallel the SE Asian monsoon, although linkage between them existed to some extent. There are millennial-scale variations in the Plateau Monsoon system, but this is not further discussed in this paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Loess
  • Plateau Monsoon
  • Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
  • The last glacial-interglacial cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change


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