Climate change and soil erosion in a small alpine lake basin on the Loess Plateau, China

Keke Yu, Hai Xu, Jianghu Lan, Enguo Sheng, Bin Liu, Huixian Wu, Liangcheng Tan, Kevin M. Yeager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Multi-proxy indices retrieved from sediments in Lake Chaonaqiu, an alpine lake on the western Loess Plateau (LP) of China, were used to reconstruct a precipitation history over the last ~300 years. The results correlate well with records from tree rings and historical documents in neighboring regions. We show that the lake oscillated between two states, i.e. wetter climatic conditions, which favored denser vegetation cover, and promoted weaker catchment soil erosion; and drier climatic conditions, which lead to less vegetation coverage, correlate with stronger surface soil erosion. Several intensive soil erosion events were identified in the sediment cores, and most of these occurred during decadal/multi-decadal dry periods, and correlate well with flood events documented in historical literature. The results of this study show that soil erosion by flood events is particularly intense during dry periods, and further highlights the role of vegetation cover in the conservation of water and soil in small lake basins on the Chinese LP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1238-1247
Number of pages10
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 30 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • Lake Chaonaqiu
  • climatic change
  • loess plateau
  • soil erosion
  • vegetation cover

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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