Journal of Geographical Sciences

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 932–946 | Cite as

Climatic and environmental change in Yanchi Lake, Northwest China since the Late Glacial: A comprehensive analysis of lake sediments

  • Yu Li
  • Nai’ang Wang
  • Zhuolun Li
  • Xuehua Zhou
  • Chengqi Zhang


Modern climate research has shown that the Asian summer monsoon water vapor transport is limited to the eastern part of the Qilian Mountains. On the Holocene millennial-scale, whether the northwest boundary of the summer monsoon varies according to climate change is a key scientific issue. Yanchi Lake is located in the northern Qilian Mountains and the middle of the Hexi Corridor, where the modern climate is less affected by the Asian summer monsoon. It is a key research area for examining the long-term variations of the Asian summer monsoon. Paleoclimatic data, including AMS 14C dates of pollen concentrates and bulk organic carbon, lithology, grain-size, mineral composition and geochemical proxies were acquired from sediments of Yanchi Lake. The chronological results show that the lower part of the lacustrine section is formed mainly in the Late Glacial and early Holocene period, while the proxies’ data indicate the lake expansion is associated with high content of mineral salts. The middle part of this section is formed during the transitional period of the early and middle Holocene. Affected by the reworking effect, the pollen concentrates AMS 14C dates from the middle part of the section are generally older than those from the lower part. Since the mid-Holocene, Yanchi Lake retreated significantly and the deposition rate dropped obviously. The Yanchi Lake record is consistent with the Late Glacial and Holocene lake records in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the climatic records in typical monsoon domain, which indicate the lake expansion and the strong Asian summer monsoon during the Late Glacial and early Holocene. The long-term monsoonal pattern is different from the lake evolution in Central Asia on the Holocene millennial-scale. This study proves the monsoon impacts on the northwestern margin of the summer monsoon, and also proves the fact that the northern boundary of the summer monsoon moves according to millennial-scale climate change.


Yanchi Lake Asian summer monsoon Holocene the Late Glacial lake sediments monsoon marginal zones 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brown T A, Nelson D E, Mathewes R W et al., 1989. Radiocarbon dating of pollen by accelerator mass spectrometry. Quaternary Research, 32: 204–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen F H, Cheng B, Zhao Y et al., 2006. Holocene environmental change inferred from a high-resolution pollen record, Lake Zhuyeze, arid China. The Holocene, 16: 675–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen F, Yu Z, Yang M et al., 2008. Holocene moisture evolution in arid Central Asia and its out-of-phase relationship with Asian monsoon history. Quaternary Science Reviews, 27: 351–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen L, Qu Y, 1992. Water-land Resources and Reasonable Development and Utilization in the Hexi Region. Beijing: Science Press, 6–46. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  5. Denton G H, Anderson R F, Toggweiler J R et al., 2010. The last glacial termination. Science, 328: 1652–1656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ding Y, Chan J C L, 2005. The East Asian summer monsoon: An overview. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 89: 117–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dykoski C A, Edwards R L, Cheng H et al., 2005. A high-resolution, absolute-dated Holocene and deglacial Asian monsoon record from Dongge Cave, China. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 233: 71–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fleitmann D, Burns S J, Mudelsee M et al., 2003. Holocene forcing of the Indian monsoon recorded in a stalagmite from Southern Oman. Science, 300: 1737–1739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Geyh M A, Grosjean M, Nunez L et al., 1999. Radiocarbon reservoir effect and the timing of the late-glacial/early Holocene humid phase in the Atacama Desert (Northern Chile). Quaternary Research, 52: 143–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Herzschuh U, 2006. Palaeo-moisture evolution in monsoonal Central Asia during the last 50,000 years. Quaternary Science Reviews, 25: 163–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Huang D, 1997. Gansu Vegetation. Lanzhou: Gansu Science and Technology Press, 189–213. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  12. Kilian M R, van der Plicht J, van Geel B, 1995. Dating raised bogs: New aspects of AMS 14C wiggle matching, a reservoir effect and climatic change. Quaternary Science Reviews, 14: 959–966.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jin L, Chen F, Morrill C et al., 2012. Causes of early Holocene desertification in arid Central Asia. Climate Dynamics, 38: 1577–1591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lea D W, Pak D K, Peterson L C et al., 2003. Synchroneity of tropical and high-latitude Atlantic temperatures over the last glacial termination. Science, 301: 1361–1364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Li W, Wang K, Fu S et al., 2008. The interrelationship between regional westerly index and the water vapor budget in Northwest China. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 30(1): 34–38. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  16. Li Y, Morrill C, 2010. Multiple factors causing Holocene lake-level change in monsoonal and arid Central Asia as identified by model experiments. Climate Dynamics, 35: 1119–1132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li Y, Wang N, Cheng H et al., 2009a. Holocene environmental change in the marginal area of the Asian monsoon: A record from Zhuye Lake, NW China. Boreas, 38: 349–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Li Y, Wang N, Morrill C et al., 2009b. Environmental change implied by the relationship between pollen assemblages and grain-size in N.W. Chinese lake sediments since the Late Glacial. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 154: 54–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Li Y, Wang N, Li Z et al., 2011. Holocene palynological records and their responses to the controversies of climate system in the Shiyang River drainage basin. Chinese Science Bulletin, 56(6): 535–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Li Y, Wang N, Chen H et al., 2012a. Tracking millennial-scale climate change by analysis of the modern summer precipitation in the marginal regions of the Asian monsoon. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 58: 78–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Li Y, Wang N, Li Z et al., 2012b. Reworking effects in the Holocene Zhuye Lake sediments: A case study by pollen concentrates AMS 14C dating. Science China (Earth Sciences), 55(10): 1669–1678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Li Y, Wang N, Li Z et al., 2012c. Basin-wide Holocene environmental changes in the marginal area of the Asian monsoon, Northwest China. Environmental Earth Sciences, 65: 203–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liu X Q, Shen J, Wang S M et al., 2007. Southwest monsoon changes indicated by oxygen isotope of ostracode shells from sediments in Qinghai Lake since the Late Glacial. Chinese Science Bulletin, 52: 539–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Long H, Lai Z, Wang N et al., 2010. Holocene climate variations from Zhuyeze terminal lake records in East Asian monsoon margin in arid northern China. Quaternary Research, 74: 46–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Meyer B, Tapponnier P, Bourjot L et al., 1998. Crustal thickening in Gansu-Qinghai, lithospheric mantle subduction, and oblique, strike-slip controlled growth of the Tibet Plateau. Geophysical Journal International, 135: 1–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Meyers P A, Lallier-Vergas E, 1999. Lacustrine sedimentary organic matter records of late Quaternary paleoclimates. Journal of Paleolimnology, 21: 345–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mischke S, Kramer M, Zhang C J et al., 2008. Reduced early Holocene moisture availability in the Bayan Har Mountains, northeastern Tibetan Plateau, inferred from a multi-proxy lake record. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 267: 59–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Morrill C, Overpeck J T, Cole J E et al., 2006. Holocene variations in the Asian monsoon inferred from the geochemistry of lake sediments in central Tibet. Quaternary Research, 65: 232–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Owen L A, Spencer J Q, Ma H et al, 2003. Timing of Late Quaternary glaciation along the southwestern slopes of the Qilian Shan, Tibet. Boreas, 32: 281–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rasmussen S O, Andersen K K, Svensson A M et al., 2006. A new Greenland ice core chronology for the last glacial termination. Journal of Geophysical Research, 111: D06102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Shen J, Liu X, Wang S et al., 2005. Palaeoclimatic changes in the Qinghai Lake area during the last 18, 000 years. Quaternary International, 136: 131–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sun D, Bloemendal J, Rea D K et al., 2002. Grain size distribution function of polymodal sediments in hydraulic and aeolian environments and numerical partitioning of the sedimentary components. Sedimentary Geology, 152: 263–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tapponnier P, Xu Z, Roger F et al., 2001. Oblique stepwise rise and growth of the Tibet Plateau. Science, 294: 1671–1677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wang B, Lin H, 2002. Rainy season of the Asian-Pacific summer monsoon. Journal of Climate, 15: 386–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wang K, Jiang H, Zhao H, 2005. Atmospheric water vapor transport from westerly and monsoon over the Northwest China. Advances in Water Science, 16(3): 432–438. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  36. Wang N, Li Z, Li Y et al., 2012. Younger Dryas event recorded by the mirabilite deposition in Huahai Lake, Hexi Corridor, NW China. Quaternary International, 250: 93–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wang R L, Scarpitta S C, Zhang S C et al., 2002. Later Pleistocene/Holocene climate conditions of Qinghai-Xizhang Plateau (Tibet) based on carbon and oxygen stable isotopes of Zabuye Lake sediments. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 203: 461–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wen R L, Xiao J L, Chang Z G et al., 2010. Holocene precipitation and temperature variations in the East Asian monsoonal margin from pollen data from Hulun Lake in northeastern Inner Mongolia, China. Boreas, 39: 262–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Xiao J, Xu Q, Nakamura T et al., 2004. Holocene vegetation variation in the Daihai Lake region of north-central China: A direct indication of the Asian monsoon climatic history. Quaternary Science Reviews, 23: 1669–1679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yancheva G, Nowaczyk N R, Mingram J et al., 2007. Influence of the intertropical convergence zone on the East Asian monsoon. Nature, 445: 74–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zhang H C, Ming Q Z, Lei G L et al., 2006. Dilemma of dating on lacustrine deposits in a hyperarid inland basin of NW China. Radiocarbon, 48: 219–226.Google Scholar
  42. Zhao S, 1983. A new scheme for comprehensive physical regionalization in China. Acta Geographica Sinica, 38(1): 1–10. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  43. Zhao Y, Yu Z, Chen F H et al., 2008. Holocene vegetation and climate change from a lake sediment record in the Tengger Sandy Desert, northwest China. Journal of Arid Environments, 72: 2054–2064.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhou W, An Z, 1996. Discussion on the reliability of 14C dating of pollen concentrates from loess-paleosol sequence by accelerator mass spectrometry. Radiocarbon, 38: 132.Google Scholar
  45. Zhu L, Zhen X, Wang J et al., 2009. A ∼30,000-year record of environmental changes inferred from Lake Chen Co, Southern Tibet. Journal of Paleolimnology, 42: 343–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yu Li
    • 1
  • Nai’ang Wang
    • 1
  • Zhuolun Li
    • 1
  • Xuehua Zhou
    • 1
  • Chengqi Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Center for Hydrologic Cycle and Water Resources in Arid RegionLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina

Personalised recommendations