Australia is recognized as the driest inhabited continent with high variability in rainfall, both spatially and temporally. Due to the heterogeneity of rainfall across Australia, the effects of climate change may have dramatic effects on local water supply, agriculture, and ecosystem services. However, the true responses of climate change is unclear because of the lack of understanding of past climate variability and the complex interactions between anthropogenic disturbances and future climate scenarios. The goal of this project is to better understand the long-term climate variability of eastern Australia’s subtropics by conducting a multi-proxy analysis of lake sediment cores collected from Coalstoun Lakes, QLD.

My contribution to the project is focused on two main research areas 1) creating a modern hydrological model and 2) evaluating the paleo-climate of the region by utilizing stable isotopes. Furthermore, we aim to create a new, novel approach/application to determine silicon and oxygen stable isotopes in freshwater sponge spicules to aid in the paleoclimate reconstruction.

Combining both hydrology and stable isotopes disciplines, we will provided a high resolution and long term  (last two glacial cycles) climate history of eastern Australia subtropics. The implications of our work will directly address frequency, severity, and duration of drought hazards, anthropogenic environmental impacts, and natural and modified climate variability.

Advisors:  Prof Jamie Shulmeister, Dr Kevin Welsh

Project members

Nicholas PATTON

PhD candidate