Pollen-inferred vegetation and environmental changes in the central Tibetan Plateau since 8200 yr BP

Ling Yu Tang, Cai Ming Shen, Chun Hai Li, Jin Lan Peng, Hui Liu, Kam Biu Liu, Carrie Morrill, Jonathan T. Overpeck, Julia E. Coel, Bao Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The ecotone between alpine steppe and meadow in the central Tibetan Plateau is sensitive to climate changes. Here we used the pollen records from three lakes in this region to reconstruct the evolution of local vegetation and climate since 8200 cal. yr BP. The history of temperature and precipitation was reconstructed quantitatively with multi-bioclimatic indexes and a transfer function from pollen records. Results show that the steppe/meadow dominated during the period of 8200-6500 cal. yr BP, especially 8200-7200 cal. yr BP, indicating the central Tibetan Plateau was controlled by strong monsoon. The steppe dominated during the periods of 6000-4900, 4400-3900, and 2800-2400 cal. yr BP. The steppe decreased gradually and the meadow expanded during the period of 4900-4400 cal. yr BP. Three century-scale drought events occurred during 5800-4900, 4400-3900 and 2800 cal. yr BP, respectively. The first time when the regional climate shifted to the present level was at 6500 cal. yr BP in the central Plateau. Since 3000 cal. yr BP, the temperature and precipitation have decreased gradually to the present level. However, the cold climate between 700-300 cal. yr BP likely corresponds to the Little Ice Age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1104-1114
Number of pages11
JournalScience in China, Series D: Earth Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009


  • Bioclimatic index
  • Central Tibetan Plateau
  • Pollen record
  • The meadow-steppe ecotone (MSE)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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