Prof. YAO Tandong
Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
Prof. YAO Tandong is the director of the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Before this position, he had been the Director of Lanzhou Glaciological Institute and then that of the Cold and Arid Regions Environment and Engineering Research Institute. Given his administrative skills and scientific research background, Yao used to participate in the National People’s Congress, and now holds a position as a member of the CPPCC.
Yao is internationally acknowledged as one of the leading glaciologists in the study of alpine glaciers. He has carried out different projects relating to environment in the past 20 years, focusing mainly on the reconstruction of paleo-climate and environment on the Tibetan Plateau from ice core record. He and his colleagues found that abrupt climatic changes occurred in the tropical-subtropical region on different timescales from 100 years to 10, 000 years, in different climate conditions from glacial stage to inter-glacial stages. According to their discovery, there were about 100 abrupt climatic events from 10,000 to 20,000 a BP. Each of the events lasted about 200 years and the magnitude of temperature changes of each event was about 8 ℃. These climatic events appeared in a very short time period. Some of them even appeared within 30-50 years.
They identified the air temperature increase as 0.5-1.0℃in the low-mid latitudein the past 50 years. They also found that the magnitude of temperature increase is larger at the high altitude region than the low altitude region. This achievement enables the prediction of future climatic trend by monitoring current temperature at the high altitude region, so as to adjust timely to the changing environment of the region. Their study also confirms the positive correlation between stable oxygen isotope in precipitation and air temperature.
Besides, Dr. Yao has studied methane history in the mid-low latitudes based on ice core reconstruction and verifies that the methane concentration produced in the mid-low latitudes is higher than the polar regions. He further proposes the methane produced in the tropical-subtropical forest and wetland as the major cause, considering it responsible for the global changes of methane in atmosphere.