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Main Title: Survival of the Qaidam mega-lake system under mid-Pliocene climates and its restoration under future climates
Author(s): Scherer, Dieter
Type: Article
Language Code: en
Abstract: The Qaidam Basin in the north of the Tibetan Plateau has undergone drastic environmental changes during the last millions of years. During the Pliocene, the Qaidam Basin contained a freshwater mega-lake system although the surrounding regions showed increasingly arid climates. With the onset of the Pleistocene glaciations, lakes began to shrink and finally disappeared almost completely. Today, hyperarid climate conditions prevail in the low-altitude parts of the Qaidam Basin. The question of how the mega-lake system was able to withstand the regional trend of aridification for millions of years has remained enigmatic so far. This study reveals that the mean annual water balance, i.e. the mean annual change in terrestrial water storage in the Qaidam Basin, is nearly zero under present climate conditions due to positive values of net precipitation in the high mountain ranges and shows positive annual values during warmer, less dry years. This finding provides a physically based explanation for how mid-Pliocene climates could have sustained the mega-lake system and that near-future climates not much different from present conditions could cause water storage in reservoirs, raising lake levels and expanding lake areas, and may even result in restoration of the mega-lake system over geological timescales. The study reveals that a region discussed as being an analogue to Mars due to its hyperarid environments is at a threshold under present climate conditions and may switch from negative values of long-term mean annual water balance that have prevailed during the last 2.6 million years to positive ones in the near future.
Issue Date: 29-Jul-2020
Date Available: 1-Dec-2020
DDC Class: 550 Geowissenschaften
Subject(s): Qaidam mega-lake system
mid-Pliocene climates
Qaidam Basin
Sponsor/Funder: TU Berlin, Open-Access-Mittel – 2020
BMBF, 03G0804A, Verbundprojekt: WTZ Zentralasien WET; Variabilität und Trends der Wasserhaushaltskomponenten in Benchmark-Einzugsgebieten des Tibet-Plateaus; Leitantrag; Vorhaben: TP1 Atmosphärische Modellierung
BMBF, 03G0863C, Verbundprojekt: WTZ Zentralasien CAME II: Q-TiP - Kipp-Punkte von Seesystemen in der ariden Zone Zentralasiens; Vorhaben: Sensitivitätsanalysen zur Wasserbilanz des Qaidam-Beckens (TP 2)
DFG, 69015136, Dynamic Response of Glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau to Climate Change - Phase III (DynRG-TiP-III)
Journal Title: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
Publisher: European Geosciences Union
Publisher Place: München
Volume: 24
Issue: 7
Publisher DOI: 10.5194/hess-24-3835-2020
Page Start: 3835
Page End: 3850
EISSN: 1607-7938
ISSN: 1027-5606
Appears in Collections:FG Klimatologie » Publications

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