Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Australia Temperate Zone Climate Records for the Past 30,000 years – Oz-INTIMATE Workgroup

Temperate Australia is located between the tropics and the cold Southern Ocean and comprises a range of rainfall regimes and in under the influence of different climatic drivers. Broad-scale trends in climatic and environmental change are evident in spite of this heterogeneity. Climate was relatively cool across the entire temperate zone of Australia and grasslands expanded and there was increased fluvial activity in the Murray-Darling Basin that is regionally important, between about 30-22 ka and the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) between about 22-18 ka. At this time it appears the temperate region was dominated by expanded sea ice in the Southern Ocean which was forcing a shift to the north of the position of the oceanic fronts together with an influx of cold water along the southeast coast, including Tasmania, and the coast of southwestern Australia. Glacial recession and eventual disappearance characterised the deglacial period that resulted from increased temperature that was deduced from terrestrial records, and there is some evidence suggesting climatic reversals such as the Antarctic Cold Reversal, in high-resolution marine sediment cores through this period. An overall expansion of sclerophyll woodland and rainforest taxa across the temperate region after about 12 ka, that is presumed to have been a response to temperature increase, while spatially heterogeneous hydro-climate trends are revealed by hydrological records. Increased frequency of climatic variability is suggested by patterns after about 6 ka that Petherick et al. suggest possibly reflects the onset of large-scale climate variability that was caused by the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Sources & Further reading

  1. Petherick, L., H. Bostock, T. J. Cohen, K. Fitzsimmons, J. Tibby, M. S. Fletcher, P. Moss, J. Reeves, S. Mooney, T. Barrows, J. Kemp, J. Jansen, G. Nanson and A. Dosseto (2013). "Climatic records over the past 30 ka from temperate Australia – a synthesis from the Oz-INTIMATE workgroup." Quaternary Science Reviews 74(0): 58-77.


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated 31/01/2015
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