Climate Dynamics

, Volume 37, Issue 11–12, pp 2289–2301 | Cite as

Simulated variations of eolian dust from inner Asian deserts at the mid-Pliocene, last glacial maximum, and present day: contributions from the regional tectonic uplift and global climate change

  • Zhengguo Shi
  • Xiaodong LiuEmail author
  • Zhisheng An
  • Bingqi Yi
  • Ping Yang
  • Natalie Mahowald


Northern Tibetan Plateau uplift and global climate change are regarded as two important factors responsible for a remarkable increase in dust concentration originating from inner Asian deserts during the Pliocene–Pleistocene period. Dust cycles during the mid-Pliocene, last glacial maximum (LGM), and present day are simulated with a global climate model, based on reconstructed dust source scenarios, to evaluate the relative contributions of the two factors to the increment of dust sedimentation fluxes. In the focused downwind regions of the Chinese Loess Plateau/North Pacific, the model generally produces a light eolian dust mass accumulation rate (MAR) of 7.1/0.28 g/cm2/kyr during the mid-Pliocene, a heavier MAR of 11.6/0.87 g/cm2/kyr at present, and the heaviest MAR of 24.5/1.15 g/cm2/kyr during the LGM. Our results are in good agreement with marine and terrestrial observations. These MAR increases can be attributed to both regional tectonic uplift and global climate change. Comparatively, the climatic factors, including the ice sheet and sea surface temperature changes, have modulated the regional surface wind field and controlled the intensity of sedimentation flux over the Loess Plateau. The impact of the Tibetan Plateau uplift, which increased the areas of inland deserts, is more important over the North Pacific. The dust MAR has been widely used in previous studies as an indicator of inland Asian aridity; however, based on the present results, the interpretation needs to be considered with greater caution that the MAR is actually not only controlled by the source areas but the surface wind velocity.


Asian dust Tibetan Plateau uplift Climate change Pliocene Paleoclimate simulation 



We thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and insightful suggestions that help greatly improve the earlier manuscripts. This work was jointly supported by Natural Science Foundation of China (40825008, 41075067), National Basic Research Program of China (2010CB833406), and US National Science Foundation under grant ATM-0803779.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhengguo Shi
    • 1
  • Xiaodong Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zhisheng An
    • 1
  • Bingqi Yi
    • 2
  • Ping Yang
    • 2
  • Natalie Mahowald
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Loess Quaternary Geology (SKLLQG), Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  2. 2.Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  3. 3.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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