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Pollen- and Diatom-Inferred Climatic and Hydrological Changes in Sumxi Co Basin (Western Tibet) since 13,000 yr B.P.

  • Elise Van Campo (a1) and Francoise Gasse (a2)

Although the Tibetan Plateau greatly influences the atmospheric circulation of the Nortbern Hemisphere, few continuous paleoclimatic records are available from the plateau. A 13,000-yr pollen and diatom record from the Sumxi-Longmu Co basin in western Tibet gives information on major changes both in regional vegetation and in local hydrology. After the basin first filled ca. 13,000 yr B.P., a dry spell occurred about 10,500 yr B.P. within the interval spanned by the European Younger Dryas chronozone. A major environmental change occurred suddenly at ≈10,000 yr B.P., with the establishment of wet conditions, and was followed by a long-term trend toward maximum aridity, which lasted approximately 6000 yr. Short-term oscillations are superimposed on this general climatic change with a major reversal event about 8000 yr B.P. and a second wet pulse leading to a maximum lake volume ca. 7500-6000 yr B.P. Maximum aridity occurred 4300 yr B.P. The major environmental fluctuations recorded at Sumxi-Longmu Co appear in phase with climatic changes recognized in north tropical Africa, suggesting that the 8000 to 7000-yr-B.P. event was caused by an abrupt disequilibrium in the climatic system, as was the Younger Dryas and possibly the 4300-yr-B.P. event.

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