A team of researchers led by Tom Stevens from the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway University reported the first evidence that large rivers control desert sands and dust in Northern China in the Oct. 14, 2013, issue of the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.
The effects on climate change, ocean productivity, and human health discovered by the scientists is applicable to all similar regions on Earth.
The researchers compared chemical analysis and the physical forms of sand grains that form the Chinese Loess Plateau with sand from the Mu Us desert in Inner Mongolia and the Yellow River. The sand and dust in the Chinese Loess Plateau began forming 2.5 million years ago.
The Yellow River was found to drain the northeast Tibetan plateau and control the large scale dust deposits and sand formation in the Loess Plateau part of China. The continental drift that initiated the rise of the Tibet and continues to increase the elevation of Tibet is a major factor is the distribution of dust and sand into the Yellow River.
This research is the first ever to connect plate tectonics with a major driver of climate change based on hard physical evidence.
Similar activities in parts of Africa, South America, and the United States can be presumed to produce equivalent effects on climate in those areas as well as impacting global climate.