Quaternary Cryosphere—Study on Global Change in Long Terms

ZHOU Shangzhe1 ZHAO Jingdong2 WANG Jie3 XU Liubing1 CUI Jianxin4 OU Xianjiao5 XIE Jinming3

(1.South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China 510631)
(2.Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, China 730000)
(3.Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China 730000)
(4.Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, China 710119)
(5.Jiaying College, Meizhou, China 514015)

【Abstract】The Quaternary is marked by the Great Ice Age. The basic characteristics of this great ice age are the alternating of glacial-interglacial period in orbital scale and changes of stadial-interstadial in suborbital scale. Present is a relatively warm interglacial period, with glaciers covering only 10% of the land area. The glacial maximum was characterized by the coverage of about 30% by glaciers on the global land area, spreading permafrost, dry climate with prevalence of dust, sea level reduction of 130–150 m, vegetation contraction of more than 10° to low latitudes, and downward movement of vertical band spectrum by more than 1 000 m. The astronomic theory of ice ages has successfully explained the glacial-interglacial cycles. However, there are still a lot of problems needing studies in detail. Quaternary is also the period of ancient human development. Ancient human was born in East Africa and spread to Eurasia only on a limited scale about 2 Ma ago. The spread on a large scale started during the last interglacial and they spread to America and Australia by means of land bridges during Last Glaciation Maximum (LGM). After the younger Dryas, the climate became warm and the human entered the Neolithic Period and gradually transited to the agricultural society. After the Industrial Revolution, human development has been profoundly affecting the natural process of the Earth, leading to global warming, heralding the arrival of the Anthropocene.

【Keywords】 Quaternary; cryospheric change; human development;


【Funds】 National Natural Science Foundation of China (41771065)

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(Translated by ZHAO B)


    [1]. (1) It refers to the period from the Late Paleolithic to the Early Neolithic (the beginning of the production and economy), when human livelihoods gradually shifted to exploiting animal and plant resources that had been unused or neglected in the early and the middle Paleolithic. [^Back]


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This Article


CN: 11-1806/N

Vol 35, No. 04, Pages 475-483

April 2020


Article Outline


  • 1 Research significance
  • 2 Research topics
  • 3 Progress in the research on the evolution and its causes of cryosphere during the Pleistocene
  • 4 Quaternary cryosphere and lithosphere movement
  • 5 Adaptation of organisms and humans to cryosphere changes in the Quaternary
  • 6 Reflections and recommendations
  • Footnote