The role of the westerlies and orography in Asian hydroclimate since the late Oligocene

Xin Wang, Barbara Carrapa, Yuchen Sun, David L. Dettman, James B. Chapman, Jeremy K. Caves Rugenstein, Mark T. Clementz, Peter G. DeCelles, Mi Wang, Jie Chen, Jay Quade, Fei Wang, Zaijun Li, Ilhomjon Oimuhammadzoda, Mustafo Gadoev, Gerrit Lohmann, Xu Zhang, Fahu Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Interactions between midlatitude westerlies and the Pamir-Tian Shan mountains significantly impact hydroclimate patterns in Central Asia today, and they played an important role in driving Asian aridification during the Cenozoic. We show that distinct westeast hydroclimate differences were established over Central Asia during the late Oligocene (ca. 25 Ma), as recorded by stable oxygen isotopic values of soil carbonates. Our climate simulations show that these differences are present when relief of the Pamir-Tian Shan is higher than 75% of modern elevation (~3000 m). Integrated with geological evidence, we suggest that a significant portion of the Pamir-Tian Shan orogen had reached elevations of ~3 km and acted as a moisture barrier for the westerlies since ca. 25 Ma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-732
Number of pages5
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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