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      Resilience of the Asian atmospheric circulation shown by Paleogene dust provenance

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          Abstract

          The onset of modern central Asian atmospheric circulation is traditionally linked to the interplay of surface uplift of the Mongolian and Tibetan-Himalayan orogens, retreat of the Paratethys sea from central Asia and Cenozoic global cooling. Although the role of these players has not yet been unravelled, the vast dust deposits of central China support the presence of arid conditions and modern atmospheric pathways for the last 25 million years (Myr). Here, we present provenance data from older (42–33 Myr) dust deposits, at a time when the Tibetan Plateau was less developed, the Paratethys sea still present in central Asia and atmospheric pCO 2 much higher. Our results show that dust sources and near-surface atmospheric circulation have changed little since at least 42 Myr. Our findings indicate that the locus of central Asian high pressures and concurrent aridity is a resilient feature only modulated by mountain building, global cooling and sea retreat.

          Abstract

          The onset of modern central Asian atmospheric circulation is often linked to the interplay of late Cenozoic paleogeographic changes and global cooling. Here the authors present sedimentary provenance data from early Cenozoic dust deposits, which indicate long-term stability of the central Asian high pressure system.

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          Most cited references31

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          Evolution of Asian monsoons and phased uplift of the Himalaya-Tibetan plateau since Late Miocene times.

          The climates of Asia are affected significantly by the extent and height of the Himalayan mountains and the Tibetan plateau. Uplift of this region began about 50 Myr ago, and further significant increases in altitude of the Tibetan plateau are thought to have occurred about 10-8 Myr ago, or more recently. However, the climatic consequences of this uplift remain unclear. Here we use records of aeolian sediments from China and marine sediments from the Indian and North Pacific oceans to identify three stages of evolution of Asian climates: first, enhanced aridity in the Asian interior and onset of the Indian and east Asian monsoons, about 9-8 Myr ago; next, continued intensification of the east Asian summer and winter monsoons, together with increased dust transport to the North Pacific Ocean, about 3.6-2.6 Myr ago; and last, increased variability and possible weakening of the Indian and east Asian summer monsoons and continued strengthening of the east Asian winter monsoon since about 2.6 Myr ago. The results of a numerical climate-model experiment, using idealized stepwise increases of mountain-plateau elevation, support the argument that the stages in evolution of Asian monsoons are linked to phases of Himalaya-Tibetan plateau uplift and to Northern Hemisphere glaciation.
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            Onset of Asian desertification by 22 Myr ago inferred from loess deposits in China.

            The initial desertification in the Asian interior is thought to be one of the most prominent climate changes in the Northern Hemisphere during the Cenozoic era. But the dating of this transition is uncertain, partly because desert sediments are usually scattered, discontinuous and difficult to date. Here we report nearly continuous aeolian deposits covering the interval from 22 to 6.2 million years ago, on the basis of palaeomagnetic measurements and fossil evidence. A total of 231 visually definable aeolian layers occur as brownish loesses interbedded with reddish soils. This new evidence indicates that large source areas of aeolian dust and energetic winter monsoon winds to transport the material must have existed in the interior of Asia by the early Miocene epoch, at least 14 million years earlier than previously thought. Regional tectonic changes and ongoing global cooling are probable causes of these changes in aridity and circulation in Asia.
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              Orographic Controls on Climate and Paleoclimate of Asia: Thermal and Mechanical Roles for the Tibetan Plateau

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nat Commun
                Nat Commun
                Nature Communications
                Nature Publishing Group
                2041-1723
                04 August 2016
                2016
                : 7
                : 12390
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas , Lawrence, Kansas 66045, USA
                [2 ]Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Universität Potsdam , Potsdam 14476, Germany
                [3 ]Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington , Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
                [4 ]Géosciences Rennes, UMR CNRS 6118, Université de Rennes , Rennes 74205, France
                [5 ]Key Laboratory of Orogenic Belts and Crustal Evolution, Peking University , Beijing 100871, China
                [6 ]Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona , Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA
                [7 ]Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Rochester , Rochester, New York 14627, USA
                [8 ]Department of Geosciences and Engineering, Delft University of Technology , Delft 2628 CN, The Netherlands
                [9 ]School of Earth Sciences, China University of Geosciences , Wuhan 430074, China
                Author notes
                Author information
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5267-7545
                Article
                ncomms12390
                10.1038/ncomms12390
                4976207
                27488503
                a035e092-58c9-479a-85f5-2b4e17c9ec15
                Copyright © 2016, The Author(s)

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

                History
                : 27 January 2016
                : 28 June 2016
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