IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Aeolian dust records in Asia as an archive of long-term climate change
Vast area of highly populated regions in inland Asia is covered by wind-blown dust deposits which are geologically called loess. The formation process of the thick dust deposits has been a hot topic in Earth science since the late 19th century. One distinctive characteristic of such deposits is the alternating occurrence of loess and buried soils, forming spectacular landscape in north central China and central Asian countries. As the two contrasting lithologies represent completely different environments in the past, the dust records provide valuable near-continuous terrestrial archives for the geological history as long as over 20 million years. In this presentation, Professor Zhou shall start with a tour of modern dust storms and diversified landscape of the loess-covered land in northern China and central Asia and then illustrate how the physical, chemical and biological methods have been employed to reveal the fascinating history of the gradual drying of the inland Asia and the initiation of the massive dust accumulation, and the changes in summer and winter monsoon circulations in the region. He will also highlight the latest scientific endeavour towards a deeper understanding on the relationship between the evolution of the Asian monsoon and the uplift of the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau and changes in the land-ocean distribution, and the possible link between the alternation of dust accumulation-soil formation and the waxing and waning of ice-sheet in the Northern Hemisphere.
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