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Journal of Arid Land  2022, Vol. 14 Issue (12): 1331-1343    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0037-5
Research article     
High-frequency climatic fluctuations over the past 30 ka in northwestern margin of the East Asian monsoon region, China
WU Huining1,*(), CUI Qiaoyu2,*()
1Bailie School of Petroleum Engineering, Lanzhou City University, Lanzhou 730070, China
2Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
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Whether millennial- to centennial-scale climate variations throughout the Holocene convey universal climate change is still widely debated. In this study, we aimed to obtain a set of high-resolution multi-proxy data (1343 particle size samples, 893 total organic carbon samples, and 711 pollen samples) from an alluvial-lacustrine-aeolian sequence based on an improved age-depth model in the northwestern margin of the East Asian monsoon region to explore the dynamics of climate changes over the past 30 ka. Results revealed that the sequence not only documented the major climate events that corresponded well with those reported from the North Atlantic regions but also revealed many marked and high-frequency oscillations at the millennial- and centennial-scale. Specifically, the late stage of the last glacial lasting from 30.1 to 18.1 cal. ka BP was a dry and cold period. The deglacial (18.1-11.5 cal. ka BP) was a wetting (probably also warming) period, and three cold and dry excursions were found in the wetting trend, i.e., the Oldest Dryas (18.1-15.8 cal. ka BP), the Older Dryas (14.6-13.7 cal. ka BP), and the Younger Dryas (12.5-11.5 cal. ka BP). The Holocene can be divided into three portions: the warmest and wettest early portion from 11.5 to 6.7 cal. ka BP, the dramatically cold and dry middle portion from 6.7 to 3.0 cal. ka BP, and the coldest and driest late portion since 3.0 cal. ka BP. Wavelet analysis results on the total pollen concentration revealed five substantially periodicities: c. 5500, 2200, 900, 380, and 210 a. With the exception of the c. 5500 a quasi-cycle that was causally associated with the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, the other four quasi-cycles (i.e., c. 2200, 900, 380, and 210 a) were found to be indirectly causally associated with solar activities. This study provides considerable insight into the dynamic mechanism of the Asian climate on a long-time scale and future climatic change.

Key wordsEast Asian monsoon region      total pollen concentrations      climate periodicity      millennial-centennial time scale      Chinese Loess Plateau     
Received: 09 June 2022      Published: 31 December 2022
Corresponding Authors: *WU Huining (E-mail:;CUI Qiaoyu (E-mail:
Cite this article:

WU Huining, CUI Qiaoyu. High-frequency climatic fluctuations over the past 30 ka in northwestern margin of the East Asian monsoon region, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(12): 1331-1343.

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Fig. 1 Geographic location of the study area and XG (Xiaogou) section
Fig. 2 (a), relationship between age and depth; (b), distribution curve of medium size (thick line represents the 5-point moving average trend line); (c and d), images of the alluvial-lacustrine-aeolian sequence of the XG (Xiaogou) section.
Laboratory number Depth (cm) 14C age (a BP) Calibrated age (2σ) (cal. a BP)
aAA64267 152-154 803±40 671-752
aAA64268 674-675 4033±44 4413-4623
aAA87138* 800 6088±45 6840-7032
aAA87139* 850 6186±44 6954-7168
aAA87140* 900 7484±39 8194-8375
aAA87141* 950 7855±76 8517-8814
aAA64270 1036-1037 6412±56 7254-7427
aAA64272 1258-1259 8039±72 8644-9035
aAA64275 2132-2133 9171±50 10,236-10,436
aAA64276 2226-2228 9292±79 10,252-10,662
aAA64277 2475-2478 9393±49 10,499-10,747
aAA64278 2674-2676 9210±110 10,195-10,608
aAA64279 2874-2876 9807±52 11,156-11,324
bLUG06-45 1426-1428 10,870±98 12,712-13,007
bLUG06-46 1636-1639 9782±118 10,761-11,413
bLUG06-47 1992-1996 10,487±123 11,993-12,716
bLUG06-48 2132-2136 9572±129 10,573-11,217
bLUG06-49 2360-2364 11,981±157 13,498-14258
bLUG06-50 2628-2632 11,259±107 12,921-13,346
bLUG06-51 2924-2928 13,501±162 15,805-16,807
bLUG06-100 3260-3272 19,421±191 23,016-23,786
bLUG06-101 3720-3732 22,811±246 26,457-27,580
bLUG06-102 3990-4000 23,243±272 27,103-27,886
Table 1 14C dating data and correction age of the XG (Xiaogou) section
Fig. 3 Pollen percentage, pollen concentration (including coniferous trees, deciduous broad-leaved trees, shrubs and herbs, and representative genera (Pinus, Picea+Abies, and Quercus)), TPC (total pollen concentration), TOC (total organic carbon), and Md (medium size) (thick line represents the 5-point moving average trend line) of the XG (Xiaogou) section. Grey shaded band indicates relatively cold-dry time period.
Stratigraphic unit and depth
Pollen zone and age Vegetation Climate
40.00-32.40 1a: 30.1-29.0 cal. ka BP Desert steppe Cold and dry
1b: 29.0-24.2 cal. ka BP Coniferous forests (Picea, Abies, and Pinus) Relatively wet
1c: 24.2-20.7 cal. ka BP Desert steppe Cold and dry
1d: 20.7-18.1 cal. ka BP Coniferous forests (Picea, Abies, and Pinus) Relatively wet
32.40-21.80 2a: 18.1-15.8 cal. ka BP Desert steppe Dry and cold
2b: 15.8-14.6 cal. ka BP Coniferous sparse forest steppe Relatively humid
2c: 14.6-13.7 cal. ka BP Steppe Relatively cold and dry
2d: 13.7-12.5 cal. ka BP Coniferous forest steppe Relatively warm and humid
2e: 12.5-11.5 cal. ka BP Steppe Relatively cold and dry
21.80-7.25 3a: 11.5-9.4 cal. ka BP Coniferous broad-leaved mixed forest Warm and relatively wet
3b: 9.4-6.7 cal. ka BP Broad-leaved coniferous mixed forest Wet and relatively warm
7.25-2.56 4a: 6.7-5.5 cal. ka BP Steppe Relatively cold and dry
4b: 5.5-3.0 cal. ka BP Coniferous sparse forest steppe Relatively humid
2.56-0.00 5: 3.0-0.0 cal. ka BP Steppe/desert steppe Relatively dry and cold
Table 2 History of vegetation and climate change recorded by pollen in the XG (Xiaogou) section
Fig. 4 Comparison of Md (medium size) (thick line represents the 5-point moving average trend line), TOC (total organic carbon), deciduous pollen percentage, and TPC (total pollen concentration) of the XG (Xiaogou) section with the haematite-stained grain content record from the North Atlantic deep-sea core (VM29-191, Bond et al., 1997), the oxygen isotopic record from the Greenland ice core (Grootes et al., 1993), the Hulu Cave stalagmite (Wang et al., 2001), the Dongge Cave stalagmite (Dykoski et al., 2005), and the summer insolation of the Northern Hemisphere (Berger, 1978). D1-D11 represent 11 Holocene dry events; 1-8 represent eight Holocene cold events; H1-H3 represent Heinrich-like events. YD, Younger Dryas; VSMOW, Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water; VPDB, Vienna Pee Dee Belemnite.
Fig. 5 Wavelet analysis results and filtering analysis curve of the total pollen concentration (TPC) series for the past 30 ka in the XG (Xiaogou) section. (a), wavelet analysis results (yellow, high energy spectrum; blue, low energy spectrum; black line, more than 95% confidence); (b), filtering curve of the principal periodic components; (c), TPC curve.
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