Latest Pleistocene and Holocene glacier fluctuations in the Himalaya and Tibet

  • Owen L
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The timing and extent of latest Pleistocene and Holocene alpine glacier fluctuations in the Himalaya and Tibet are poorly defined due to the logistical and political inaccessibility of the region, and the general lack of modern studies of the glacial successions. Nevertheless, renewed interest in the region and the aid of newly developing numerical dating techniques have provided new insights into the nature of latest Pleistocene and Holocene glacier oscillations. These studies provide abundant evidence for significant glacial advances throughout the Last Glacial cycle. In most high Himalayan and Tibetan regions glaciers reached their maximum extent early in the Last Glacial cycle. However, true Last Glacial Maximum glacier advances were significantly less extensive. Notable glacier advances occurred during the Lateglacial and the early Holocene, with minor advances in some regions during the mid-Holocene. There is abundant evidence for multiple glacial advances throughout the latter part of the Holocene, although these are generally very poorly defined, and were less extensive than the early Holocene glacier advances. The poor chronological control on latest Pleistocene and Holocene glacial successions makes it difficult to construct correlations across the region, and with other glaciated regions in the world, which in turn makes it hard to assess the relative importance of the different climatic mechanisms that force glaciation in this region. The Lateglacial and Holocene glacial record, however, is particularly well preserved in several regions, notably in Muztag Ata and Kongur, and the Khumbu Himal. These successions have the potential to be examined in detail using newly developing numerical dating methods to derive a high-resolution record of glaciation to help in paleoclimatic reconstruction and understanding the dynamics of climate and glaciation in the Himalaya and Tibet. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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  • Lewis A. Owen

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