The way in which the NE Tibetan Plateau uplifted and its impact on climatic change are crucial to understanding the evolution of the Tibetan Plateau and the development of the present geomorphology and climate of Central and East Asia. This paper is not a comprehensive review of current thinking but instead synthesises our past decades of work together with a number of new findings. The dating of Late Cenozoic basin sediments and the tectonic geomorphology of the NE Tibetan Plateau demonstrates that the rapid persistent rise of this plateau began ~ 8 ± 1 Ma followed by stepwise accelerated rise at ~ 3.6 Ma, 2.6 Ma, 1.8-1.7 Ma, 1.2-0.6 Ma and 0.15 Ma. The Yellow River basin developed at ~ 1.7 Ma and evolved to its present pattern through stepwise backward-expansion toward its source area in response to the stepwise uplift of the plateau. High-resolution multi-climatic proxy records from the basins and terrace sediments indicate a persistent stepwise accelerated enhancement of the East Asian winter monsoon and drying of the Asian interior coupled with the episodic tectonic uplift since ~ 8 Ma and later also with the global cooling since ~ 3.2 Ma, suggesting a major role for tectonic forcing of the cooling. © 2014 University of Washington.
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