Posted on 15/10/2013
New research published today in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews has found thefirst evidence that rivers control desert sands in Northern China.
Northern China holds some of the world's most significantwind-blown dust deposits, known as loess. The origin of this loess-forming dustand its relationship to sand has previously been the subject of considerabledebate.
The team of researchers led by Royal Holloway, analysed individual grainsof desert sand and fine wind-blown dust deposited in the Chinese Loess Plateau overthe past 2.5 million years. As part of this, they also analysed the Mu Usdesert in Inner Mongolia and the Yellow River, to identify links between thethree.
The results showed that the Yellow River transports largequantities of sediment from northern Tibet to the Mu Us desert and furthersuggests that the river contributes a significant volume of material to theLoess Plateau, either direct or via the western Mu Us.
“The Yellow River drains the Tibetan plateau andso the uplift of this region and the development of Yellow River drainage,seems to control the large scale dust deposits and sand formation in this partof China,” said lead researcher Tom Stevens from the Department of Geography atRoyal Holloway.
"Identifying how this dust is formed and controlled is important, since it drives climate change and ocean productivity. Its relationship to the river and Tibet implies strong links within the Earth's system."