Glacial history and landscape evolution in the north-east Tibetan Plateau: Was there a Huang He ice sheet?

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2008
End date: 31/12/2010
Funding: 900000 SEK


The Tibetan Plateau, by virtue of its elevation, hosts some of Earth’s extreme environments, and in itself exerts a strong imprint on the Northern Hemisphere climate system. We know, however, disturbingly little about Tibetan environmental change during the Quaternary, even though changes in the past elevation of the plateau and the degree of glaciation all played key roles in the evolution of Northern Hemisphere climate change. In this study of the north-eastern corner of the Tibetan Plateau, we focus on quantifying: (i) the glacial history through the dating of moraines and tills using terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide (TCN) and optically-stimulated luminescence (OSL) techniques; thereby testing a proposed reconstruction for a 80,000 km2 ice sheet in this area; (ii) typical rates of landscape erosion for the Quaternary Period for different landscape elements such as mountains, the plateau surface, and -margins. We will compare rates of glacial erosion with fluvial erosion, using TCN techniques, in an effort to understand the long-term trends in landscape change. We will employ a number of new and novel applications of the TCN technique and will use both TCN and OSL techniques for the same landscape features and stratigraphic horizons to tighten the ages of formation. This study is furthermore significant because derived glacial chronologies can be compared to glacial records in other regions in an effort to understand long-term glacial history and climate change.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:17