, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 145-154

Late Quaternary (30.7–9.0 cal ka BP) vegetation history in Central Asia inferred from pollen records of Lake Balikun, northwest China

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Abstract

Surface and fossil pollen samples were collected to reconstruct the vegetation and environment since 30.7 cal ka BP in the Lake Balikun Basin, northwest China. This record demonstrates that the region was occupied by four vegetation communities during the interval 30.7–9.0 cal ka BP, including desert steppe (30.7–25.1 cal ka BP), Amaranthaceae-Asteraceae desert (25.1–17.7 cal ka BP), Amaranthaceae-Artemisia-Asteraceae desert (17.7–12.8 cal ka BP) and Amaranthaceae desert (12.8–9.0 cal ka BP), corresponding to relatively humid, the coldest and driest, cold and dry, and colder and drier conditions, respectively. The reconstructions of vegetation and environmental changes around Lake Balikun do not support the interpretation of an extremely humid LGM in Central Asia, challenging the cold-moist (glacial), warm-dry (interglacial) pattern of late Quaternary environmental change in Central Asia. The Last Glacial Maximum was cold and dry, and similarly harsh conditions continued into the early Holocene.