Evaluation of the realism of climate reconstruction using the Coexistence Approach with modern pollen samples from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Zhi Yong Zhang*, Sandy P. Harrison, Volker Mosbrugger, David K. Ferguson, Khum N. Paudayal, Anjali Trivedi, Cheng Sen Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We apply the Coexistence Approach (CoA) to reconstruct mean annual precipitation (MAP), mean annual temperature (MAT), mean temperature of the warmest month (MTWA) and mean temperature of the coldest month (MTCO) at 44 pollen sites on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. The modern climate ranges of the taxa are obtained (1) from county-level presence/absence data and (2) from data on the optimum and range of each taxon from Lu et al. (2011). The CoA based on the optimum and range data yields better predictions of observed climate parameters at the pollen sites than that based on the county-level data. The presence of arboreal pollen, most of which is derived from outside the region, distorts the reconstructions. More reliable reconstructions are obtained using only the non-arboreal component of the pollen assemblages. The root mean-squared error (RMSE) of the MAP reconstructions are smaller than the RMSE of MAT, MTWA and MTCO, suggesting that precipitation gradients are the most important control of vegetation distribution on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Our results show that CoA could be used to reconstruct past climates in this region, although in areas characterized by open vegetation the most reliable estimates will be obtained by excluding possible arboreal contaminants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-182
Number of pages11
JournalReview of Palaeobotany and Palynology
Volume219
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

Keywords

  • Coexistence Approach
  • Climate reconstruction
  • Mean annual precipitation
  • Arboreal pollen
  • Pollen surface sample
  • Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

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