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.