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Ref ID: 31928
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Verstappen, Herman Th.
Title: The effect of climatic change on Southeast Asian geomorphology
Date: 1997
Source: Journal of Quaternary Science
Abstract: There is no evidence that the climatic conditions in southeast Asia during the Neogene differed substantially from the humid tropical and subtropical climates that then characterised large tracts of the globe. Tropical planation surfaces are less extensive than those prevailing, for example, in Africa as a result of tectonism related to plate tectonics. However, during the generally somewhat drier Quaternary period the effects of climatic changes on landform development were rather unique in the southeast Asian region because large areas were under the regime of the monsoonal wind system. The climatic changes thus were not limited to changes in temperature and precipitation but included changes in wind direction. The exposure of extensive shelf areas during the low sea-levels of the Pleistocene glacial stages is another characteristic that added to the areas uniqueness. The Quaternary climatic changes in southeast Asia thus comprise four types of fluctuations: temperature, precipitation, wind patterns and sea-level. Their geomorphological effects are discussed and illustrated by examples. Fluctuations in temperature had a marked effect on landform development, especially in the high mountains. The lowering of the snow- and vegetation lines resulted in glaciation in the highest parts, frost shattering further down and debris formation in the piedmont zone. Fluctuations in precipitation had a marked effect, especially on the landforms of the lower areas, where foot slopes developed under the effect of lateral activity processes in the drier periods, alternating with vertical activity processes during the more humid phases. Many sediment sequences and soil profiles, and in the driest areas even fossil dune fields, bear witness to former drier periods. Fluctuations of sea-level governed coastal evolution during the Pleistocene, when the extensive shelf areas emerged in the glacial periods and a drainage network developed. Coral reef formation in those parts thus was interrupted several times. Long records of sea-level changes are recorded in some raised coral reefs in the island arc zones. Fluctuations of wind patterns also had a pronounced effect on coastal development and coral cays in southeast Asia. This is especially evident from Holocene and recent changes.
Date Created: 10/8/2003
Volume: 12
Number: 5
Page Start: 413
Page End: 418