Xinwei Yan

External PhD student
Room: R519
Mobile: +8618693085705

Research Interests

My research focuses on alpine permafrost (Tibetan Plateau) carbon cycling during Late Pleistocene and since the last glaciation period. The Tibet Plateau (TP), also known as the third pole of Earth, contains the largest area of alpine permafrost in the world, with a globally significant stock of ~160 Pg of SOC. Compared to the Arctic permafrost, the alpine permafrost is generally warmer and has thicker and drier active layers. The monsoon-dominated climate over the TP can bring both high temperature and rainfall in the summer, which allows the maximum active layer thaw depth period to overlap with the period of high discharge. The high relief of the alpine permafrost could also lead to high velocity of water flow and intense mechanical weathering. All of which may enhance the carbon export from deeper thawed soil layers during summer and expose more aged carbon to subsurface flow. However, the lack of alpine permafrost thawing history hinders us to complete a picture of spatial and temporal pattern of permafrost thawing and thus further limits a comprehensive understanding of the controlling mechanism of cryosphere carbon remobilization.

Current research focus areas:

  • The response of alpine permafrost carbon cycling (including methane activity) to climatic and hydrological changes since the last deglaciation.
  • Comparing the permafrost carbon cycling responses to recent anthropogenic warming with past warming periods in TP (i.e., post-glacial warmin).
  • To explore the  spatial and temporal pattern of permafrost dagradations between circumarctic and alpine permafrost region (TP) over past 500 ka.



How human activities affect natural processes that drive the major biogeochemical cycles that ultimately govern the composition of the environment.