Palaeoclimate

Andrew Lorrey extracting a tree ring sample. Image: Tree Ring Laboratory, University of Auckland
Andrew Lorrey extracting a tree ring sample. Image: Tree Ring Laboratory, University of Auckland

Palaeoclimate records make use of the climate information that can be extracted and analysed from our natural environment.  Scientists gather data from sources such as tree rings, coral, ice cores and cave formations. The researchers determine how this palaeoclimate data relates to modern climate variations, then use this relationship to reconstruct temperature and rainfall variations for hundreds of years.

Palaeoclimatic research has the potential to provide a valuable historical perspective on past natural climate variability. Information derived from these records can be used as a baseline for efficient long-term management of our natural resources.

Our projects draw on palaeoclimatic data from:

Climate models predict that Australia’s densely populated south-east will become warmer and drier under climate change. To establish how the current changes can be viewed in a context of long-term natural variability, these estimates of past climate variability and extremes are crucial.

A palaeoclimate highlight from our team’s public talk at State Library of Victoria in August 2012