—The surface pattern of permafrost area in the Tibetan Plateau, with 15–20 m polygons, resembles the patterned ground of the Arctic periglacial loess plains in northeastern Eurasia and North America. However, unlike the Arctic plains, it consists of semi-stabilized modern sand dunes, up to 2.5–3.0 m high, and U-shaped epigenetic ice wedge casts inherited from an ancient polygonal network on the surface of a 10–12-m terrace of the Yangtze River. The polygonal dunes and the U-shaped sand wedges were studied in the Yangtze head-waters in the vicinity of the high-altitude research station Bei-Lu-Xe. The polygons have desert pavement floors with ventifacts, composed of Late Pleistocene alluvial gravel and debris. The dunes and wedges consist of well sorted quartz-carbonate sand with an average grains size of 2.0–2.2 mm. Ground Penetrating Radar surveys in the area revealed the permafrost table at depths varying from 2 to 4 m below the dunes. The polygonal dunes may have formed by biogenic-aeolian deposition over an ancient system of ice wedges.

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