An Zhisheng is a leading geo-scientist on monsoon dynamics and global change studies. He is internationally known for his work on the Chinese loess and on the dynamics of Asian monsoon systems. His step from classical Quaternary geology to monsoon dynamics was a prescient moment in Earth System Science in Asia. An was born in Anhui Province, China, and graduated from Nanjing University with a degree in Geology. He continued with graduate study in the Institute of Geology and the Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), China. He began his loess, paleoclimate and paleo-magnetism research in the Institute of Geochemistry in 1966. In 1985, he was a co-founder of the Xi’an Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology and the State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, CAS, Xi’an, China, which in 2000 he guided into the Institute of Earth Environment as its first director. An has published more than 270 scientific papers, including 13 in Science, Nature and its associated series, PNAS, and he has co-authored several books.

Research Interests

An Zhisheng's research has focused on monsoon dynamics, global change, and sustainable development strategy for the Loess Plateau and for western China. An and his group pioneered Chinese loess and environment studies in the 1980s. Around 1990 An proposed the "paleomonsoon control theory" which hypothesized that East Asian environmental changes since the late Cenozoic were largely controlled by monsoon variations. An also pioneered the identification of proxies to determine the history, variability, and driving forcings of the East Asian monsoon within a global context. He has extended this exploration to the dynamics of the Indian monsoon, as well as studies of monsoon variability at global scale, by integrating the data of monsoons and paleomonsoons, and helping the understanding of the science of monsoon systems for a range of timescales. He has also carried out sustantial research on the sustainable development of the Loess Plateau and western China, and on urban air pollution control. He advocates balanced development between natural preservation and economic progress, emphasizing natural vegetation recovery principles.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology

Secondary Section

Section 15: Geology