Senckenberg Research

Q-TiP - Quaternary Tipping Points of Lake Systems in the Arid Zone of Central Asia

Arid Zone of Central Asia

Nearly half of the arid regions of the world are in Central Asia. Within the scope of Q-TiP a deeper understanding of the formation, preservation and disappearance of lake systems in the dry areas of Central Asia in the light of long-term global climate development will be achieved.

The projects focus on two main research questions:

1) What are the mechanisms that preserve in the arid zone large lake systems over long periods of time and what causes tipping points which lead to their disappearance?

2) What are the effects of tipping points on the landscape system, especially with regard to current and future climate changes?

The questions are of great societal relevance, since lakes are an important water resource for Central Asia. Nevertheless, the geological records point to radical changes during the evolution of the lakes and the underlying processes of which are also significant on time scales that are relevant to humanity.

The aims of the different Q-TiP projects are to investigate various climate proxies, to carry out geomorphological field work and to apply climate models. The investigations are focused on the Chinese Qaidam and Gaxun Nur basins as well as on the Mongolian Orog-Nuur basin (Figure 1). Thereby, glacial-interglacial cycles of the last 2-3 million years and especially the last glacial cycle (120 ka) are studied.

Fig. 1: Study areas of the working groups in the arid region of Central AsiaFigure 1: Study areas of the working groups in the arid region of Central Asia


Involved institutes and working groups

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Department of Geosciences
Geophysics: Prof. Dr. Erwin Appel
Earth System Dynamics Research Group: Prof. Dr. Todd Ehlers

Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen
Department of Geography, Physical Geography and Geoecology: Prof. Dr. Frank LehmkuhlDr. Georg Stauch
Institute of Neotectonics and Natural Hazards: Prof. Dr. Klaus Reicherter

Technische Universität Berlin
Department of Ecology, Chair of Climatology: Prof. Dr. Dieter Scherer

Alfred-Wegener-Institut Potsdam
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Diekmann

Ruprecht-Karl-Universität Heidelberg
Institute of Earth Sciences, Palynology & Paleoenvironmental Dynamics: Prof. Dr. Jörg Pross

Freie Universität Berlin
Department of Earth Sciences, Applied Geography: Dr. Kai Hartmann
Department of Earth Sciences, Physical Geography: Prof. Dr. Bernd Wünnemann

Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum Frankfurt: Prof. Dr. Volker Mosbrugger


Research projects

Q-Tip is divided into four work packages:

AP 1: Tipping points in the hydrological evolution of lake systems
AP 2: Influences of tipping points on landscape systems
AP 3: Sensitivity studies for tipping points
AP 4: Synthesis on mechanics and effects of tipping points