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Paper Code  
Title   Abrupt vegetation shifts caused by gradual climate changes in central Asia during the Holocene
Authors   Zhao Yan; Liu YaoLiang; Guo ZhengTang; Fang KeYan etc.
Corresponding Author  
Year   2017
Title of Journal  
Volume   SCIENCE CHINA-EARTH SCIENCES
Number  
Page  
Abstract   Understanding the response of ecosystems to past climate is critical for evaluating the impacts of future climate changes. A large-scale abrupt shift of vegetation in response to the Holocene gradual climate changes has been well documented for the Sahara-Sahel ecosystem. Whether such a non-linear response is of universal significance remains to be further addressed. Here, we examine the vegetation-climate relationships in central Asia based on a compilation of 38 high-quality pollen records. The results show that the Holocene vegetation experienced two major abrupt shifts, one in the early Holocene (Shift I, establishing shift) and another in the late Holocene (Shift II, collapsing shift), while the mid-Holocene vegetation remained rather stable. The timings of these shifts in different regions are asynchronous, which are not readily linkable with any known abrupt climate shifts, but are highly correlated with the local rainfalls. These new findings suggest that the observed vegetation shifts are attributable to the threshold effects of the orbital-induced gradual climate changes. During the early Holocene, the orbital-induced precipitation increase would have first reached the threshold for vegetation "establishment" for moister areas, but significantly later for drier areas. In contrast, the orbital-induced precipitation decrease during the late Holocene would have first reached the threshold, and led to the vegetation "collapse" for drier areas, but delayed for moister areas. The well-known 4.2 kyr BP drought event and human intervention would have also helped the vegetation collapses at some sites. These interpretations are strongly supported by our surface pollen-climate analyses and ecosystem simulations. These results also imply that future climate changes may cause abrupt changes in the dry ecosystem once the threshold is reached.
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Classification: SCI
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Title of Journal: SCIENCE CHINA-EARTH SCIENCES
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