Late Quaternary glaciation in the Tianshan and implications for palaeoclimatic change: A review

  • Xu X
  • Kleidon A
  • Miller L
 et al. 
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Abstract

The Tianshan mountain range has been extensively and repeatedly glaciated during the late Quaternary. Multiple moraines in this region record the extent and timing of late Quaternary glacier fluctuations. The moraines and their ages are described in three sub-regions: eastern, central and western Tianshan. Notable glacial advances occurred during marine oxygen isotope stages (MIS) 6, 4, 3, 2, the Neoglacial and the Little Ice Age (LIA) in these sub-regions. Glaciers in western Tianshan advanced significantly also during MIS 5, but not in eastern and central Tianshan. The local last glacial maximum (llgm) of the three sub-regions pre-dated the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and occurred during MIS 4 in eastern and central Tianshan, but during MIS 3 in western Tianshan. The spatial and temporal distribution of the glaciers suggests that precipitation (as snow at high altitude) is the main factor controlling glacial advance in the Tianshan. The late Quaternary climate in the Tianshan has been generally cold-dry during glacial times and warm-humid during interglacial times. Between neighbouring glacial times, the climate has had a more arid tendency in eastern and central Tianshan. These palaeoclimatic conditions inferred from glacial landforms indicate important relationships between the mid-latitude westerly, the Siberian High and the Asian monsoon.

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