Reconstructing the Little Ice Age Glacial using Dendroglaciology in Central Tian Shan Mountains, China

Date

2022-08

Authors

Schumann, Elizabeth M.

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Abstract

<p>Glaciers are sensitive indicators of the changing climate, and quantitative constraints on the timing of past glacial events provide key information in climate models. This thesis uses dendroglaciological techniques to reconstruct the age of the terminal moraine in the forefield of the Xiata Glacier, located in the central Tian Shan Mountains in Northwest China. This study aims to answer the following two research questions: What is the timing of the most recent Little Ice Age glacial retreat event in the area? And how does the timing of the central Tian Shan’s Little Ice Age (LIA) glacial event correspond to other LIA events in High Mountain Asia?</p> <p>A series of 48 core samples taken from 35 trees growing on the outer flanks of the Xiata glacial moraine were collected in the summers of 2017 and 2019 and used to inference the moraine age after lab processing and age correction. Taking considerations of germination date and the ecological succession of trees on the moraine, results suggest that the most recent moraine-forming retreat of the Xiata Glacier occurred around 1547 A.D. and potentially 1810 A.D, during the LIA. These results fit well with known Little Ice Age cold periods in Northwestern China and are similar to ages found at other sites within High Mountain Asia, particularly the Southeastern Tibetan Plateau. Additionally, this study compares two laboratory methods to examine if semi-automatic image analysis is more efficient than the traditional manual operation when measuring tree ring width series. The former is found cheaper and less time-consuming, suggesting a potentially more accessible option for students and researchers without sacrificing measurement accuracy.</p> <p>The findings from this study help fill in the knowledge gap in this remote region and helps provides additional context to other LIA studies in HMA. Tree-ring data is a powerful tool that offers insight into the timing of past glacial movements and yields key information in climate change research.</p>

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Keywords

Dendroglaciology, Tian Shan, Little Ice Age

Citation

Schumann, E. M. (2022). Reconstructing the Little Ice Age glacial using dendroglaciology in Central Tian Shan Mountains, China</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.

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