Tibetan Plateau


German Research Foundtation - DFG (2008-2014)

This research work is integrated in the DFG Priority Programme "Tibetan Plateau: Formation - Climate - Ecosystems (TiP)" and will be supported through the bundle project "Landscape and Lake-System Response to Late Quaternary Monsoon Dynamics on the Tibetan Plateau - Northern Transect". 



• Bernd Wünnemann & Yongzhan Zhang, School of Geography and Oceanography, Nanjing University, China.

• Kai Hartmann, Free University Berlin, Geography Department, Berlin, Germany.

• Frank Lehmkuhl & Dr. Georg Stauch, Technical University Aachen, Geography Department, Aachen, Germany.

• Steffen Mischke, Potsdam University.

• Ulrike Herzschuh, AWI Potsdam.



Climate variability on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau mainly depends on changes in monsoon activity and the influence of the westerly wind system, controlled by tropical atmospheric processes in connection with global circulation patterns. Several palaeoenvironmental studies revealed that the periglacial and aquatic geoecosystems of the Tibetan Plateau show complex reactions to climate changes on different time scales.

The overall goal of AWI field work in China is to investigate periglacial and limnogeological processes on the “third pole of the earth” and to decipher the natural causes of climate changes since the last ice age. The outcomes of the research will help to better assess the degree of anthropogenic influences on modern warming and regional environmental changes, such as pedogenic trace-gas relase, permafrost degradation, glacier retreat, and the modification of hydrology and lake settings. The final goal is to compare and understand climatic responses of the subtropical high-altitude permafrost regions of China with those in the periglacial realm of northern Eurasia.


Field Work Campaigns

In August 2006 and September 2009, two three-week field trips to Lake Donggi Cona were carried out for geoecological, geomorphological, and seismic/bathymetric surveys of the lake basin and the surrounding catchment area. Sediment-core retrieval was conducted in spring 2007 and 2008. The last two campaigns took place in summer 2011 and 2012 and were devoted to geomorphological and limnogeological field work at Lake Heihai, about 300 km west of Lake Donggi Cona.


Outcome: Publications

• Lockot, G., Ramisch, A., Wünnemann, B., Hartmann, K., Haberzettl, T., Chenc, H., Diekmann, B. (in press): A process- and provenance-based attempt to unravel inconsistent radiocarbon chronologies in lake sediments – an example from Lake Heihai, North Tibetan Plateau (China). Radiocarbon.

• Dietze, E., Maussion, F., Ahlborn, M., Diekmann, B., Hartmann, K., Henkel, K., Kasper, T., Lockot, G., Opitz, S., Haberzettl, T. (2014). Sediment transport processes across the Tibetan Plateau inferred from robust grain-size end members in lake sediments. Climate of the Past, 10 , pp. 91-106, doi:10.5194/cp-10-91-2014.

• Opitz, S. , Ramisch, A. , Mischke, S. and Diekmann, B. (2013). Holocene lake stages and thermokarst dynamics in a discontinuous permafrost affected region, north-eastern Tibetan Plateau. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 76: 85-94, doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2013.08.006.

• Dietze, E. , Wünnemann, B. , Hartmann, K. , Diekmann, B. , Jin, H. , Stauch, G. , Yang, S. and Lehmkuhl, F. (2013). Early to mid-Holocene lake high-stand sediments at Lake Donggi Cona, northeastern Tibetan Plateau, China. Quaternary Research, 79: 325-336, doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2012.12.008.

• Opitz, S., Wünnemann, B., Aichner, B., Dietze, E., Hartmann, K., Herzschuh, U., Ijmker, J., Lehmkuhl, F., Shijie Li, Mischke, S., Plotzki, A., Stauch, G., Diekmann, B. (2012). Late glacial and Holocene development of Lake Donggi Cona, north-eastern Tibetan Plateau, inferred from sedimentological analysis. - Palaeogeography Palaeoclimaotology Palaeoecology, 337-338: 159-176, doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.04.013.

• Stauch, G., IJmker, J., Pötsch, S., Zhao, H., Hilgers, A., Diekmann, B., Dietze, E., Hartmann, K. , Opitz, S., Wünnemann, B., Lehmkuhl, F. (2012). Aeolian sediments on the north-eastern Tibetan Plateau. Quaternary Science Reviews, 57: 71-84, doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2012.10.001.

• Aichner, B., Herzschuh, U., Wilkes, H., Schulz, H.-M., Wang, Y., Plessen, B., Mischke, S., Diekmann, B., Zhang, C. (2012). Ecological development of Lake Donggi Cona, north-eastern Tibetan Plateau, since the late glacial on basis of organic geochemical proxies and non-pollen palynomorphs. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 313-314: 140-149, doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.10.015.

• Dietze, E., Hartmann, K., Diekmann, B., Ijmker, J., Lehmkuhl, F., Opitz, S., Stauch, G., Wünnemann, B., Borchers, A. (2012). An end-member algorithm for deciphering modern detrital processes from lake sediments of Lake Donggi Cona, NE Tibetan Plateau, China. - Sedimentary Geology, 243-244: 169-180, doi:10.1016/j.sedgeo. 2011.09.014.

• IJmker, J., Stauch, G., Hartmann, K., Diekmann, B., Dietze, E., Opitz, S., Wünnemann, B., Lehmkuhl, F. (2012). Environmental conditions in the Donggi Cona lake catchment, NE Tibetan Plateau, based on factor analysis of geochemical data. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 44: 176-188, doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2011.04.021.

 • IJmker, J., Stauch, G., Pötsch, S., Diekmann, B., Wünnemann, B., Lehmkuhl, F. (2012). Dry periods on the NE Tibetan Plateau during the late Quaternary. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 346-34: 108-119, doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.06.005.

• Dietze, E., Wünnemann, B., Diekmann, B., Aichner, B., Hartmann, K., Herzschuh, U., IJmker, J., Jin Huijun, Kopsch, C., Lehmkuhl, F., Li Shijie, Mischke, S., Niessen, F., Opitz, S., Stauch, G., Yang Sizhong (2010). Basin Morphology and Seismic Stratigraphy of Lake Donggi Cona, north-eastern Tibetan Plateau, China. - Quaternary International, 218: 131-142.

• Mischke, S., Aichner, B., Diekmann, B., Herzschuh, U., Plessen, B., Wünnemann, B., Zhang, C. (2010). Ostracods and stable isotopes of a late glacial and Holocene lake record from the NE Tibetan Plateau. - Chemical Geology, 276: 95-103.

• Mischke, S., Bößneck, U., Diekmann, B., Herzschuh, U., Jin, H., Kramer, A., Wünnemann, B., Zhang, C. (2010). Quantitative relationship between water-depth and sub-fossil ostracod assemblages in Lake Donggi Cona, Qinghai Province, China. - Journal of Paleolimnology, 43: 589-608, doi:10.1007/s10933-009-9355-2.

• Wünnemann, B., Demske, D., Tarasov, P., Kotlia, B.S., Reinhardt, C., Bloemendal, J., Diekmann, B., Hartmann, K., Krois, J., Riedel, F., Arya, N. (2010). Hydrological evolution during the last 15 kyr in the Tso Kar lake basin (Ladakh, India), derived from geomor-phological, sedimentological and palynological records. - Quaternary Science Reviews, 29 (9-10): 1138-1155.

• Yang, S., Jin, H., Diekmann, B., Wünnemann, B., Mischke, S., Ji, Yanjun, Chen, J., Yang, Q. (2006). Sino-Germany Joint Investigated Environmental Changes in Donggi Cona Lake Area on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 28(6): 850-853.


Outcome: Theses

• Ramisch, Arne (2015). Lake-system development on the northern Tibetan Plateau during the last 12 ka. - Submitted PhD Thesis at Potsdam University.

• Viert, Victoria (2014). Detritischer Sedimenteintrag in den Heihai-See, NE' Tibet-Plateau: Hinweise aus der Tonmineralogie limnischer Sedimente des Holozäns (Bachelor Thesism Potsdam University/AWI Potsdam). 

• Noerling, Caroline (2012). Analyse des Einflusses der Paläowasserchemie auf die Ausfällung endogener Karbonatminerale anhand von wässrigen Extrakten des Porenwassers im Hei-Hai-See, nordöstliches Tibetplateau (Bachelor Thesis, Potsdam University/AWI Potsdam).

• Opitz, Stephan (2012). Lake-system response to late Quaternary monsoon dynamics on the northern Tibetan Plateau. - PhD Thesis at Potsdam University.

• Plotzki, Anna (2009): Klimagekoppelte Sedimentationsdynamik im spätquartären Donggi Cona See, nordöstliches Tibetplateau (Diploma Thesis, University Trier/AWI Potsdam).

• Olchewski, Martin (2008). Grain-size parameters of lacustrine sediments of Lake Donggi Cona to determine their sediments origin on northeastern Tibet Plateau (Bachelor Thesis University Hannover/AWI Potsdam).