Understanding the mechanisms driving hydrological change in arid Central Asia over a range of time scales is crucial for making predictions for future changes in fragile desert-lake ecosystems. As of yet, the drivers of hydrological changes in lake systems of arid Central Asia over the Holocene remain largely unexplored. Aibi Lake, fed by rivers originating from the glaciated Tianshan Mountains and terminating in the arid Junggar Basin of northwestern China, presents a perfect natural laboratory to explore lake evolution in context to Holocene climate evolution in arid Central Asia. Here, a single-grain K-feldspar dating method was used to effectively date 20 paleolake shorelines with poorly bleached sediment to constrain lake level evolution over the past 18 k.y. Results indicate that Aibi Lake experienced a rapid increase in water levels, reaching a peak of ∼36 m during the early to mid-Holocene period (10−7 ka). Subsequently, the lake level may have shown a general decline during the middle Holocene (7−4 ka), with the lake reaching a low level of less than 10 m at ca. 4 ka. In the late Holocene, lake levels fluctuated by 10−30 m above modern levels during 4−1 ka, with generally low levels of <9 m after 1 ka. The evolution of Aibi Lake underlines a clear out-of-phase relationship between Central Asian lake evolution and Westerlies precipitation changes, where Holocene lake changes were instead more directly controlled by the flux of glacial meltwater from the Tianshan Mountains, driven by change in Northern Hemisphere summer insolation. Glacier meltwater, in combination with variable delivery of Westerlies and East Asian summer monsoon precipitation, are responsible for asynchronous lake evolution trends across Central to East Asia.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.
You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.