Dunes as indicator of climate change in Central Asia



Georg Stauch

Akademischer Oberrat


+49 241 80 99381



Over the last 50 years, changes in the morphology and movement of dunes have been observed in different sub-regions from the Tibetan plateau to southern Mongolia. Due to their structure, dunes respond quickly to changes in climatic parameters by changing their geomorphological shape. Among these climatic parameters, wind speed and humidity are particularly important as they determine the activity, orientation and speed of movement of the dunes. The study area on the northern Tibetan Plateau and in the deserts of Central Asia is characterised by a variety of different dune types. It ranges from the headwaters of the Huang He and Gonghe basins on the northern Tibet Plateau to the Gobi Lakes valley in southern Mongolia. Thus, the study area extends from the present northern limit of the Asian summer monsoon to the area of the west-west winds in mid-latitudes. Numerical dune models will be used in selected regions for a better understanding of the various climatic and non-climatic factors that influence dune shape and rate of movement. The study will draw on existing information on dune movements and dune shapes collected by the Chinese and German applicants during previous expeditions, as well as on freely available remote sensing data. These findings will thus document the effects of climate change directly on site. In a further step, the local results will be compared with the relatively coarsely resolved climate data or climate model data and used to evaluate them. At the same time, regional and supraregional trends in the development of the dune fields are analysed. These results can also be used to assess degradation and desertification risks in this ecologically highly sensitive area.

Duration 06/2021 - 05/2024


Prof. Dr. F. Lehmkuhl

Dr. G. Stauch

Project partners Zhejiang University, China