Aeolian sediment evidence that global cooling has driven late Cenozoic stepwise aridification in central Asia
H. Lu, X. Wang, L. Li, 2010. "Aeolian sediment evidence that global cooling has driven late Cenozoic stepwise aridification in central Asia", Monsoon Evolution and Tectonic–Climate Linkage in Asia, P. D. Clift, R. Tada, H. Zheng
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It has been a long held view that uplift of the Tibetan Plateau dominated stepwise climatic drying in central Asia during the late Cenozoic. On the other hand, global cooling may also have forced Asian drying and the subsequent formation of aeolian deposits in north China. Until now, whether the Tibetan uplift or the global cooling has been the first-order driver controlling stepwise Asian drying has remained a contentious issue. In this study, we examine the thick aeolian silt deposit, which is regarded as a good archive of palaeoclimatic changes in central Asia and north China, in order to qualitatively reconstruct the drying process in Asia during the late Cenozoic. On the basis of our long-term field surveys, laboratory analyses and previous investigations, we have obtained time sequences of Asian drying from the early Miocene to late Pleistocene; we compare this newly reconstructed time series of Asian aridification with the time series of global cooling and Tibetan uplift to identify the first-order driver of stepwise Asian aridification. A good match between the drying and global cooling might indicate that global cooling was the most likely driver of stepwise drying in interior Asia. On the other hand, controversy regarding timing and amplitude of Tibetan uplift during the late Cenozoic suggests that the prevailing conclusion that Tibetan uplift forces Asian drying should be regarded as immature. A mechanism that global cooling drove the Asian drying is tentatively suggested.