Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences

, Volume 45, Supplement 1, pp 91–101 | Cite as

Expansion and contraction of Chinese deserts during the Quaternary

  • Dongsheng Liu
  • Jimin Sun


Episodic dune formations during the Quaternary are found in many deserts of China. The causes of desert expansions on different time scales are not the same. Desert extension at about 1.1 and 0.9 Ma ago were the response to the active tectonic movements, whereas the desert evolutions on the ten-thousand years time scale were the response to the orbital scale climatic changes. Spatial scale studies on desert evolution indicate that desert margins shifted greatly during the last glacial maximum (LGM) and the Holocene optimum, its changing from 125°E of the LGM to 105°E of the climatic optimum. Historical desertification in the semiarid China is not a response to climate drought but largely associated with the human impacts (mainly over-cultivation) since about 2300 years ago, which leads to the reworking of the underlying LGM sands.


expansion contraction desert Quaternary 


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Copyright information

© Science in China Press 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dongsheng Liu
    • 1
  • Jimin Sun
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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