EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Influence of Temperature on the Fall of the Guge Kingdom in Western Tibet, China

Haichao Xie and Jie Liang
Haichao Xie and Jie Liang
  • Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China (

Branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (brGDGTs) from lacustrine sediments have been widely used to reconstruct mean annual air temperature (MAAT). Although many proxy calibrations relating brGDGT characteristics have been put forth, these calibrations may produce warm biases when applied to lakes in cold regions. We present an expanded Chinese lake surface sediment brGDGT-MAAT calibration with 29 new surface samples from cold regions along with 39 previously published from Chinese lakes. We deployed sediment traps in a meromictic lake, Dagze Co, and compared results with previously published data from a dimictic lake, Lake 578 in Greenland, to determine potential seasonal and depth-dependence of brGDGTs. In the meromictic lake, brGDGTs are primarily produced in the lake bottom water, whereas in the dimictic lake, the brGDGTs are produced throughout the water column and mainly reflect the annual bottom water temperature or mixing season water column temperature. We applied our refined calibration to a sediment core from Western Tibet to examine how fluctuations in temperature influenced the Guge Kingdom over the last 2,000 years. Our record reveals relatively warm temperatures during the Medieval Climate Anomaly, cooling of 2°C to -2°C during the Little Ice Age, warming into the eighteenth century, and stabilization after 1800 CE. The temperature variations coincided with a transition of dynasties in Western Tibet. Temperature sensitivity tests on barley distribution, the principal cultivated cereal in Tibet, suggest that a decline in temperature led to a decreased crop yield that may have factored into the disappearance of the Guge Kingdom.

How to cite: Xie, H. and Liang, J.: The Influence of Temperature on the Fall of the Guge Kingdom in Western Tibet, China, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-3736,, 2023.