Increasing effective moisture during the Holocene in the semiarid regions of the Yili Basin, Central Asia: Evidence from loess sections

Shugang Kang*, Xulong Wang, Helen M. Roberts, Geoffrey A.T. Duller, Yougui Song, Weiguo Liu, Ran Zhang, Xingxing Liu, Jianghu Lan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

The evolution of Holocene moisture in semiarid and arid regions of Central Asia is key to understanding changes in current and future water resources, and has been a hotly debated topic in the past few decades. Central Asian loess deposits have shown potential as records of past moisture changes, particularly during the Holocene. Here, the variations in effective moisture during the Holocene in the semiarid regions of the Yili Basin, Central Asia, are obtained from three loess sections. Reliable chronologies were constructed using 26 quartz optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages. The strengthening pedogenesis, steady increases in magnetic susceptibility, and continuous decreases in mean grain size in the three loess sections all suggest that effective moisture continuously increased throughout the Holocene, indicating a dry early Holocene, a moderately humid middle Holocene, and a wet late Holocene. Rainfall carried by the Asian summer monsoon and the Westerlies contributes to the moisture changes in Central Asia. However, considering the dominance of evaporation over rainfall in controlling aridity-humidity shifts in this region, the continuous weakening of evaporation caused by a decrease in Northern Hemisphere summer insolation and associated atmospheric temperatures is primarily responsible for the wetting trend throughout the Holocene in the semiarid regions of the Yili Basin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106553
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume246
Early online date31 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Central Asia
  • Evaporation
  • Holocene
  • Insolation
  • Loess
  • Moisture
  • Yili Basin

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