Piecing together Australasia’s past

The University of Western Australia hosted a workshop last week that brought together a group of researchers who are piecing together a detailed reconstruction of Australasia’s climate over the past 2000 years.

The group, know as Aus2K, is the Australasian component of an international effort coordinated by Past Global Changes (PAGES) to reconstruct the Earth’s climate over the last 2 millennia.

The region’s leading palaeoclimatologists are using information gleaned from tree rings, coral reef samples and ice cores to uncover the region’s climate history prior to the period covered by modern weather observations.

SEARCH researchers presented a preliminary temperature reconstruction for Australia back to AD 1500 that highlights the marked late twentieth century warming. The group is now extending the analysis to develop a combined land and sea temperature reconstruction for the broader Australasia region to contribute to synthesis work currently under development for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report.

Once completed these climate reconstruction could help scientists to predict future changes in Australia’s temperature and rainfall by providing better estimates of natural climate variability needed to constrain regional model projections.

Aus2K leader Joelle Gergis recently discussed the significance of the Aus2K initiative with ABC radio’s Bush Telegraph program.