Vegetation and Climate Changes in the Western Part of the Loess Plateau since 13 ka BP

  • 1. School of Geography Science, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China;
    2. MOE Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China;
    3. Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, CAS, Nanjing, 210008, China;
    4. College of Resources Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China

Received date: 2007-10-20

  Revised date: 2007-11-27

  Online published: 2008-03-25

Supported by

National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, 40025105; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40331012; NSF Project, No.EAR 0402509; No.BCS 00-78557; Sci-tech Fund from Southwest University, No.104220-20710904


Sporo-pollen records from the western part of Chinese Loess Plateau revealed a detailed history of vegetation variation and associated climate changes since 13 ka BP. Before 12.1 ka BP, steppe or desert-steppe vegetation dominated landscape, which was then replaced by a coniferous forest under a generally wet climate (12.1-11.0 ka BP). The vegetation was degenerated into steppe landscape and further into a desert-steppe landscape from 11.0 to 9.8 ka BP. After a brief episode of a cool and wet climate (9.8-9.6 ka BP), a relatively mild and dry condition prevailed during the early Holocene (9.6-7.6 ka BP). The most favourable climate of warm and humid period occurred during mid-Holocene (7.6-4.0 ka BP) marked by forest-steppe landscape, and an alternation of steppe and desert-steppe has occurred since ~4.0 ka BP.

Cite this article

SUN Aizhi, FENG Zhaodong, TANG Lingyu,MA Yuzhen . Vegetation and Climate Changes in the Western Part of the Loess Plateau since 13 ka BP[J]. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2008 , 63(3) : 280 -292 . DOI: 10.11821/xb200803006


[1] O'Brien S R, Mayevoski P A, Meeker L D et al. Complexity of Holocene climate as reconstructed from a Greenland ice core. Science, 1995, 270: 1962-1964.

[2] Bond G, Shower W, Cheseby M et al. A pervasive millennial-scale cycle in North Atlantic Holocene and glacial climates. Science, 1997, 278: 1257-1266.

[3] Thompson L G, Yao T D, Davis M E et al. Tropical climate instability: The last glacial cycle from a Qinghai-Tibet ice core. Science, 1997, 276: 1821-1825.

[4] Wang Y J, Cheng H, Edwards R L et al. A high-resolution absolute-dated Late Pleistocene monsoon record from Hulu Cave, China. Science, 2001, 249(14): 2345-2348.

[5] Li J J, Feng Z D, Tang L Y. Late Quaternary monsoonal patterns in the Loess Plateau of China. Earth Surf. Processes Landf., 1998, 13: 125-135.

[6] Feng Z D, Thompson L G, Mosley-Thompson E et al. Temporal and spatial variations of climate during the last 10,000 years. Holocene, 1993, 3(2): 174-180.

[7] Feng Z D, An C B, Tang L Y, Jull A J T. Stratigraphic evidence of megahumid mid-Holocene climate in the western part of the Chinese Loess Plateau. Glob. Planet Change, 2004, 43:145-155.

[8] Shi Yafeng, Kong Zhaochen, Wang Sumin et al. The important climatic fluctuations and events in China during the Holocene Megathermal. Science in China (Series B), 1993, 23(8): 865-873.
[ 施雅风, 孔昭宸, 王苏民等. 中国全新世 大暖期鼎盛阶段的气候与环境. 中国科学(B 辑), 1993, 23(8): 865-873.]

[9] An Z S, Stepen C P, Zhou W J et al. Episode of strengthened summer monsoon climate of Younger Dryas Age on the Loess Plateau of Central China. Quaternary Research, 1993, 39: 45-54.

[10] Sun Xiangjun, Song Changqing, Wang Bengyu et al. Vegetation variations along southern mangin of the Loess Plateau: A case study of pollen record at Weinan section. Chinese Science Bulletin, 1995, 40(13): 1222-1224.
[ 孙湘君, 宋长 青, 王琫瑜等. 黄土高原南缘10 万年以来的植被: 陕西渭南黄土剖面的孢粉记录. 科学通报, 1995, 40(13): 1222-1224.]

[11] Wu Naiqin, Rousseau D D, Liu Xiuping. Response of mollusk assemblages from the Luochuan loess section to orbital forcing since the last 250 ka. Chinese Science Bulletin, 2000, 45(7): 765-770.
[吴乃琴, Rousseau D D, 刘秀平. 25 万年来黄土蜗牛的生态演替对地球轨道变化的响应. 科学通报, 2000, 45(7): 765-770.]

[12] Stuiver M, Reimer P J, Bard E, Beck J W et al. Calib 4. Radiocarbon, 1998, 40: 1041-1083.

[13] An Chengbang, Feng Zhaodong, Tang Lingyu. Evidence of a humid mid-Holocene in the western part of Chinese Loess Plateau. Chinese Science Bulletin, 2003, 48(21): 2280-2287.
[安成邦, 冯兆东, 唐领余. 黄土高原西部全新世中期湿 润气候的证据. 科学通报, 2003, 48(21): 2280-2287.]

[14] Feng Z D, Tang L Y, Wang H B, et al. Holocene vegetation variations and the associated environmental changes in the western part of the Chinese Loess Plateau. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2006, 241 (3/4): 440-456.

[15] Moore P D, Webb J A, Collinson J A. Guide to Pollen Analysis. Nanning: Guangxi People's Press, 1987.
[P D 摩尔, J A 韦布著; 李文漪, 肖向明, 刘光锈译. 孢粉分析指南. 南宁: 广西人民出版社, 1987.]

[16] Wang Fuxiong, Qian Nanfen, Zhang Yulong et al. Pollen Flora of China (2nd edn.) Beijing: Science Press, 1995.
[王伏 雄, 钱南芬, 张玉龙等. 中国植物孢粉形态. 第二版. 北京: 科学出版社, 1995.]

[17] Wang Bengyu, Song Changqing, Sun Xiangjun. Study on surface pollen in middle Inner Mongolia, China. Acta Botanica Sinica, 1996, 38(11): 902-909.
[王琫瑜, 宋长青, 孙湘君. 内蒙古中部表土花粉研究. 植物学报, 1996, 38 (11): 902-909.]

[18] Zhao Jingbo, Yue Yingli, Yue Ming. A study on the spore pollen assemblage of modern oak forests in Qinling Mountains and loess area. Journal of Xi'an Engineering Universtity, 1998, 20(1): 46-50.
[赵景波, 岳应利, 岳明. 秦岭 及黄土区现代栎林的孢粉组合研究. 西安工程学院学报, 1998, 20(1): 46-50.]

[19] Xu Qinghai, Yang Xiaolan, Liang Wendong. Modern pollen dispersions in the south Yanshan Mountains. Geography and Territorial Research, 2000, 16(4): 54-62.
[许清海, 阳小兰, 粱文栋. 燕山地区花粉散布特征研究. 地理学与国土 研究, 2000, 16(4): 54-62.]

[20] Yan Shun, Xu Yingqin. Spore-pollen association in surface-soil in Altay, Xinjiang. Arid Zone Research, 1989, 6 (l): 26-33.
[阎顺, 许英勤. 新疆阿勒泰地区表土孢粉组合. 干旱区研究, 1989, 6(1): 26-33.]

[21] Tong Guobang, Yang Xiangdong, Wang Sumin et al. Sporo-pollen dissemination and quantitative character of surface sample of Manzhouli-Dayangshu region. Acta Botanica Sinica, 1996, 38(10): 814-821.
[童国榜, 羊向东, 王苏民等. 满洲里—大杨树一带表土孢粉的散步规律及数量特征. 植物学报, 1996, 38(10): 814-821.]

[22] Li Wenyi. Quaternary Vegetation and Environment in China. Beijing: Science Press, 1998.
[李文漪. 中国第四纪植被 与环境. 北京: 科学出版社, 1998.]

[23] Liu H Y, Cui H T, Pott R. The surface pollen of the woodland-steppe ecotone in southeastern Inner Mongolia. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 1999, 105: 237-250.

[24] Ma Yuzhen. Late Cenozoic vegetation history and associated environment changes in northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Doctor Dissertation of Lanzhou University, 2004.
[马玉贞. 青藏高原东北缘晚新生代植被演化和环 境变迁. 兰州大学博士学位论文, 2004.]

[25] Ma Y Z, Zhang H C, Pachur H J et al. Modern pollen-inferred Holocene climate change in the Tengger Desert, NW China. The Holocene, 2004, 14(6): 841-850.

[26] Liu Xingqi, Shen Ji, Wang Sumin et al. A 16000-year pollen record of Qinghai Lake and its paleoclimate and paleoenvironment. Chinese Science Bulletin, 2002, 47(17): 1351-1355.
[刘兴起, 沈吉, 王苏民等. 青海湖16ka 以来 的花粉记录及其古气候古环境演化. 科学通报, 2002, 47(17): 1351- 1355.]

[27] Li Chunhai, Tang Lingyu, Feng Zhaodong et al. A high-resolution pollen vegetation and climate change record of late Pleistocene from Jingning, NW China. Science in China (Series D), 2006, 36(5): 453-460.
[ 李春海, 唐领余, 冯兆东 等. 甘肃静宁地区晚更新世晚期高分辨率的孢粉纪录及其反映的气候变化. 中国科学(D 辑): 2006, 36(5): 453-460.]

[28] Li X Q, Zhou W J, An Z S et al. The vegetation and monsoon variations at the desert-loess transition belt at Midiwan in northern China for the last 13 ka. The Holocene, 2003, 13(5): 779-784.

[29] Wang Bengyu, Sun Xiangjun. Primary study on the Holocene environment changes in Chasuqi peat, Inner Mongolia. Chinese Science Bulletin, 1997, 42(5): 514- 518.
[王琫瑜, 孙湘君. 内蒙古察素齐泥炭剖面全新世古环境变迁的初 步研究. 科学通报, 1997, 42(5): 514-518.]

[30] Xiao J L, Xu Q H, Nakamura T, Yang X L et al. Holocene vegetation variation in the Daihai Lake region of north-central China. Quaternary Science Reviews, 2004, 23:1669-1679.

[31] Sun Jianzhong, Zhao Jingbo. Quaternary of Loess Plateau in China. Beijing: Science Press, 1991.
[孙建中, 赵景波. 黄 土高原第四纪. 北京: 科学出版社, 1991.]

[32] Li Bingcheng, Sun Jianzhong. Vegetation and climate environment during the late Pleistocene in Loess Plateau, China. Geographical Research, 2004, 23(5): 641-648.
[李秉成, 孙建中. 黄土高原晚更新世的植被与气候环境. 地理研究, 2004, 23(5): 641-648.]

[33] Ke Manhong, Sun Jianzhong, Zhao Jingbo. Palaeoclimate-environmental evolution since last interglacial stage in Fuxian area, Shaanxi province. Journal of Xi'an College of Geology, 1993, 15(4): 172-177.
[柯曼红, 孙建中, 赵景波. 富县地 区末次间冰期以来古气候环境的演变. 西安地质学报, 1993, 15(4): 172-177.]

[34] He Xiubin, Liang Yimin. Pollen analysis of Holocene loess and vegetation evolution in Yan'an area. Research of Soil and Water Conservation, 2000, 7(2): 124-127.
[贺秀斌, 梁一民. 延安地区全新世黄土孢粉分析及其植被演化. 水土 保持研究, 2000, 7(2): 124-127.]

[35] Sun J M, Li S H, Han P et al. Holocene environmental changes in the central Inner Mongolia, based on single-aliquot-quartz optical dating and multi-proxy study of dune sands. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2006, 233: 51-62.

[36] Karin A F, Gerald G, Simon G et al. Mechanisms forcing abrupt fluctuations of the Indian Ocean summer Monsoon during the last deglaciation. Quaternary Science Reviews, 1997, 16: 187-201.

[37] deMenocal P, Joseph O, Tom G et al. Coherent high- and low-latitude climate variability during the Holocene warm period. Science, 2000, 288(23): 2198-2202.

[38] COHMAP Members. Climatic changes of the last 18,000 years: Observation and modeling. Science, 1988, 241: 1043-1052.

[39] Kutzbach J, Gallimore R G. Sensitivity of a coupled atmosphere and mixed-layer ocean model of changes in orbital forcing at 9000-B.P. J. Geophys. Res., 1988, 93: 803-821.

[40] Clemens S C, Murray D W, Prell W L. Nonstationary phase of the Plio-Pleistocene Asian Monsoon. Science, 1996, 274: 943-948.

[41] Koutaval A, Lynch-Stieglitz J, Marchitto T W et al. El Nino-like pattern in ice age tropical Pacific sea surface temperature. Science, 2002, 297: 226-229.

[42] Feng Z D, Wang W G, Guo L L et al. Holocene climate changes in the Mongolian Plateau: Preliminary results. Quaternary International, 2005, 136: 25-32.

[43] Feng Z D, An C B, Wang H B. Holocene climatic and environmental changes in the arid and semi-arid areas of China: A review. The Holocene, 2006, 16(1): 1-12.