Climatic Change

, Volume 113, Issue 2, pp 323–338 | Cite as

Vegetation and climate of the Lop Nur area, China, during the past 7 million years

  • Hui Hao
  • David K. Ferguson
  • Hong Chang
  • Cheng-Sen LiEmail author


Lop Nur in Xinjiang, Northwest China, is located in the lowest part of the Tarim Basin at an altitude of 780 m and experiences an extremely dry climate with an annual precipitation of only 17 mm and a high evaporation rate of 2,728 mm. The pollen and spores from the Late Miocene strata of a borehole in Lop Nur were analyzed with a view to interpreting the paleoenvironmental evolution of Lop Nur. Main types of pollen such as Chenopodiaceae, Nitraria, Ephedra and Artemisia reflect an arid climate. By collating the palynological data in this area as recorded in other literature and by applying the method of Coexistence Analysis, we have obtained the paleoclimatic parameters from Late Miocene to Holocene in Lop Nur. These suggest that temperatures increased from the Late Miocene (10.2°C) to the Pliocene (13.4°C), decreased from Pliocene to Pleistocene (4.7°C), and were more stable from Holocene (12.1°C) until now (11.5°C). The precipitation was stable (about 900 mm) from Late Miocene to Early Pleistocene, then decreased markedly (to about 300 mm) in Middle and Late Pleistocene, and reached its lowest value (17.4 mm) in the Holocene. The changes in paleoclimate at Lop Nur provide new evidence for understanding the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.


Holocene Miocene Pleistocene Pliocene Tarim Basin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Professors Nai-Qiu Du for the help in identifying the pollen and spores from the samples, Prof. Wei-Guo Liu, Dr. Serge Molchanoff, Jian Yang for giving valuable advice on the paper, Dr. Ya-Qin Hu for sample collecting and helpful suggestions. The research was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (30470117, 30530050) and National Basic Research Program of China (2004CB720200). This work contributes to NECLIME Project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hui Hao
    • 1
    • 2
  • David K. Ferguson
    • 3
  • Hong Chang
    • 4
  • Cheng-Sen Li
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Library of Beijing University of TechnologyBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of PaleontologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anPeople’s Republic of China

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