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Quaternary Permafrost in China: Framework and Discussions

Institute of Cold-Regions Science and Engineering, School of Civil Engineering, and Northeast-China Observatory and Research-Station of Permafrost Geo-Environment—Ministry of Education, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soils Engineering, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
Department of Earth Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, 1081 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Department of Geography, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada
Melnikov Permafrost Institute, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Yakutsk 677010, Russia
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Quaternary 2020, 3(4), 32;
Received: 30 October 2020 / Revised: 30 November 2020 / Accepted: 4 December 2020 / Published: 8 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Collection Milankovitch Reviews)
The framework of Quaternary permafrost in China was reconstructed for the first time on the basis of available periglacial, glacial, and other proxies. During the Early Pleistocene (2.68–0.80 Ma BP), permafrost advanced southwards to 47–50° N in northern China and possibly occurred in alpine regions in western China. During the Middle Pleistocene (800–130 ka BP), permafrost occurred extensively on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) and in alpine or mountainous regions of northern, western, central, and northeastern China. The Great Interglacial occurred afterward and before the Last Glaciation, but the evidence of permafrost for this period has been seldom found. Permafrost evolution of the Last Glaciation (72–19 ka BP) in China is divided into: Expansion (72~50 ka BP), degradation (50–26 ka BP), and intensive expansion during the Last Permafrost Maximum (LPMax, 26–19 ka BP) with a permafrost extent of 5.3 × 106~5.4 × 106 km2, and when major features of present permafrost took shape. Permafrost fluctuated during the Younger Dryas (12.9–11.7 ka BP). Since the Holocene, permafrost in China expanded and retreated to lesser extents, forming the current permafrost environment. The Holocene evolution of permafrost was divided into: Unstable climate but stable permafrost during the early Holocene (11.7~8.5–7.0 ka BP); permafrost degradation during the Last Permafrost Minimum (LPMin, or the Holocene Megathermal; 8.5–7.0~4.0–3.0 ka BP) and the Medieval Warm Period (MWP; 1.0~0.5 ka BP); permafrost expansion during the Neoglaciation (4.0–3.0~1.0 ka BP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA; 0.5~0.1 ka BP); and recent permafrost degradation (20th century to the present). However, this review paper only provides the framework of Quaternary permafrost in China and some preliminary discussions. Many key questions await further investigations. View Full-Text
Keywords: permafrost evolution; periglacial remains; climate changes; permafrost extent; China permafrost evolution; periglacial remains; climate changes; permafrost extent; China
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MDPI and ACS Style

Jin, H.; Vandenberghe, J.; Luo, D.; Harris, S.A.; He, R.; Chen, X.; Jin, X.; Wang, Q.; Zhang, Z.; Spektor, V.; Wu, Q.; Wang, S. Quaternary Permafrost in China: Framework and Discussions. Quaternary 2020, 3, 32.

AMA Style

Jin H, Vandenberghe J, Luo D, Harris SA, He R, Chen X, Jin X, Wang Q, Zhang Z, Spektor V, Wu Q, Wang S. Quaternary Permafrost in China: Framework and Discussions. Quaternary. 2020; 3(4):32.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Jin, Huijun, Jef Vandenberghe, Dongliang Luo, Stuart A. Harris, Ruixia He, Xuemei Chen, Xiaoying Jin, Qingfeng Wang, Ze Zhang, Valentin Spektor, Qingbai Wu, and Shaoling Wang. 2020. "Quaternary Permafrost in China: Framework and Discussions" Quaternary 3, no. 4: 32.

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