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High Asia


The mountain regions of High Asia are a long-term key research area of the Erlangen Tree-Ring Lab. Study regions include the Tibetan plateau, west Chinese mountain areas (Provinces Yunnan, Sichuan), and the Nepalese and Indian Himalaya. Important topics include the reconstruction of the variability of major atmospheric circulation patterns like the Asian Summer Monsoon System and the Westerlies, and related changes in landscape and hydroclimate. Specifically, glacier fluctuations and their underlying climatological causes and plant ecological responses to changes in the monsoon dynamics along elevation gradients are among the main research topics. Related research projects were realized in the framework of international collaborations with local partner institutions in China, Nepal, Iran and India.


TiP (DFG BR 1895/21-1)

TiP Logo

Funding period: 2011-2014

Project team: Achim Bräuning, Jussi Grießinger, Philipp Hochreuther

Monsoonal temperate glaciers in southeastern Tibet react fast and sensitive on climate changes. We combine geomorphological and sedimentological data from glacier sediments to reconstruct glacier fluctuations and equilibrium-line altitude variations. Within our project, we aim to

  1. date Little Ice Age glacier advances and to reconstruct different seasonal climatic elements by using different wood parameters like ring width, maximum latewood density and the content of stable δ13C and δ18O isotopes.
  2. reconstruct former moisture and temperature conditions during important late Holocene-climate episodes like the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period by using glacier and tree-ring data
  3. combine temperature-sensitive and moisture-sensitive palaeoclimate proxies to disentangle the role of temperature and humidity changes for the behaviour of monsoonal temperate glaciers on the southeastern Tibetan plateau.

Project website: TiP (

Project partners:

  • Department of Geography, RWTH Aachen University
  • Institute for Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China




Funding period: 2012-2015

Project team: Achim Bräuning, Jussi Grießinger, Jakob Wernicke

The combined project targets the late Holocene climate- and landscape dynamics in East Tibet and the eastern Himalayas, which are influenced by the Bengal branch of the southeast Asian (Indian) summer monsoon. The targeted archives contain tree-ring series of living, historic and sub-fossil trees as well as soils and soil sediments. The research areas involve on the one hand sites south of the main Himalayan ridge (Subproject 4) as well as northern regions of SE Tibet in the rain shadow of the Himalayas (subprojects 1-3). Subproject 2 contributes the ecophysiological process understanding of the isotopic fractionation of trees at monsoonal high mountain sites and thus increases the interpretation basics for the reconstruction of monsoon variability using tree-ring chronologies. The palaeoclimatic findings are calibrated using modelled hydroclimate scenarios. The late Holocene monsoon variations, as well as possible future changes of the southwest Asian monsoon system are modelled using alternative scenarios (subproject 5).

Project website: CLASH (

Project partners:

  • Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung (ZALF), Institut für Landschaftsbiogeochemie
  • Universität Hamburg, Institut für Geographie
  • GIS Service GmbH Wackernheim