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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-138
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-138
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  20 Jan 2020

20 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Aridification signatures from middle–late Eocene pollen indicate widespread drying across the Tibetan Plateau after 40 Ma

Qin Yuan1,2,3,4, Natasha Barbolini5,6, Catarina Rydin5,7, Dong-Lin Gao1,2, Hai-Cheng Wei1,2, Qi-Shun Fan1,2, Zhan-Jie Qin1,2, Yong-Sheng Du1,2, Jun-Jie Shan1,2,3, Fa-Shou Shan1,2, and Vivi Vajda4 Qin Yuan et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Comprehensive and Highly Efficient Utilization of Salt Lake Resources, Qinghai Institute of Salt Lakes, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining, China
  • 2Qinghai Provincial Key Laboratory of Geology and Environment of Salt Lakes, Qinghai Institute of Salt Lakes, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining, China
  • 3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • 4Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 5Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 6Department of Ecosystem and Landscape Dynamics, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, 1098 XH, the Netherlands
  • 7The Bergius Foundation, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Box 50005, SE-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract. Central Asia experienced a number of significant elevational and climatic changes during the Cenozoic, but much remains to be understood regarding the timing and driving mechanisms of these changes, as well as their influence on ancient ecosystems. Here we describe the palaeoecology and palaeoclimate of a new section from the Nangqian Basin in Tibet, northwestern China, here dated as late Lutetian–Bartonian (late middle–late Eocene) based on our palynological analyses. Located on the east-central part of the Tibetan Plateau, this section is excellently placed for better understanding the palaeoecological history of Tibet following the India-Asia collision. Our new pollen record reveals that a strongly seasonal steppe-desert ecosystem characterised by drought-tolerant shrubs, diverse ferns and an underlying component of broad-leaved forests existed in east-central Tibet during the Eocene, influenced by a southern monsoon. Warming during the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum only prompted a temporary vegetation response, while a drying signature in our pollen record after 40 Ma demonstrates that proto-Paratethys sea retreat caused widespread long-term aridification across the plateau. To better distinguish between local climatic variation and farther-reaching drivers of Central Asian palaeoclimate and elevation, we correlated key palynological sections across the Tibetan Plateau by means of established radioisotopic ages and biostratigraphy. This new palynozonation illustrates both intra- and inter-basinal floral response to plateau uplift and global climate change during the Paleogene, and provides a framework for the age assignment of future palynological studies in Central Asia. Our work highlights the ongoing challenge of integrating various deep time records for the purpose of reconstructing palaeoelevation, indicating that a multiproxy approach is vital for unravelling the complex uplift history of the Tibetan Plateau and its resulting influence on Asian climate.

Qin Yuan et al.

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Short summary
We describe the palaeoecology and palaeoclimate of a new section from the Nangqian Basin in Tibet, here dated as late middle–late Eocene based on pollen. We find that a strongly seasonal steppe-desert ecosystem characterised by drought-tolerant shrubs and diverse ferns existed in east-central Tibet, influenced by a southern monsoon. A drying signature in our record after 40 Ma demonstrates that proto-Paratethys sea retreat caused widespread long-term aridification across the Tibetan Plateau.
We describe the palaeoecology and palaeoclimate of a new section from the Nangqian Basin in...
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