The impacts of Tibetan uplift on palaeoclimate proxies
Daniel J. Lunt, Rachel Flecker, Peter D. Clift, 2010. "The impacts of Tibetan uplift on palaeoclimate proxies", Monsoon Evolution and Tectonic–Climate Linkage in Asia, P. D. Clift, R. Tada, H. Zheng
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Several palaeoclimate proxy records have been interpreted as representing the direct effects of Tibetan uplift on climate, and particularly the intensity of the Asian summer monsoon. However, there are other possible causes for the transitions and changes which have been observed, such as varying greenhouse gas concentrations, nodes or extremes in orbital forcing, and changing continental configurations. In this study we model the direct effects of Tibetan uplift on sea surface temperatures (SSTs), vegetation, and river discharge. We investigate whether these climatic effects of topographic uplift are likely to be detectable in proxy records, and also whether the proxies could be used to distinguish between different paradigms for the history of plateau uplift. We find that the SSTs in the western Pacific, South China Sea and Indian Ocean are generally insensitive to Tibetan uplift; however, vegetation in the region of the plateau itself, and river discharge from the Yangtze, Pearl, and in particular the Ganges/Brahmaputra, could provide a good test of our understanding of Tibetan uplift history.
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The Earth’s climate varies through geological time as a result of external, orbital processes, as well as the positions of continents, growth of mountains and the opening and closure of oceanic gateways. Climate modelling suggests that the intensity of the Asian monsoon should correlate, at least in part, with the uplift history of the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalaya, as well as the evolution of gateways and the retreat of shallow seas in Central Asia. Long-term reconstructions of both mountain building and monsoon activity are key to testing the proposed links. This collection of papers presents a series of new studies documenting the variations of the Asian monsoon on orbital and tectonic timescales, together with the impact this has had on environmental conditions. The issue of which proxies are best suited to measuring monsoons is addressed, as is the effect that the monsoon has had on erosion and the formation of the stratigraphic record both on and offshore.