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https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-124
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-124
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  13 Oct 2020

13 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Extending and understanding the South West Western Australian rainfall record using a snowfall reconstruction from Law Dome, East Antarctica

Yaowen Zheng1,2, Lenneke M. Jong3,4, Steven J. Phipps1, Jason L. Roberts3,4, Andrew D. Moy3,4, Mark A. J. Curran3,4, and Tas D. van Ommen3,4 Yaowen Zheng et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  • 2College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, Shandong, China
  • 3Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Tasmania, Australia
  • 4Australian Antarctic Program Partnership, Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart,Tasmania, Australia

Abstract. South West Western Australia (SWWA) has experienced a prolonged reduction in rainfall in recent decades, with associated reductions in regional water supply and residential and agricultural impacts. The cause of the reduction has been widely considered, but remains unclear. The relatively short length of the instrumental record limits long-term investigation. A previous proxy-based study used a statistically negative correlation between SWWA rainfall and snowfall from the Dome Summit South (DSS) ice core drilling site, Law Dome, East Antarctica and concluded that the anomaly of recent decades is unprecedented over the ∼750 year period of the study (1250–2004 CE). Here we extend the snow accumulation record to cover the period 22 BCE–2015 CE and derive a rainfall reconstruction over this extended period. This extended record confirms that the recent anomaly is unique in the period since 1250 CE and unusual over the full ∼2000 year period, with just two other earlier droughts of similar duration and intensity. The reconstruction shows that SWWA rainfall started to reduce around 1971 CE. Ensembles of climate model simulations are used to investigate the potential roles of natural variability and external climate drivers in explaining changes in SWWA rainfall. We find that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are likely to have contributed towards the SWWA rainfall drying trend after 1971 CE. However, natural variability may also have played a role in determining the timing and magnitude of the reduction in rainfall.

Yaowen Zheng et al.

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Extending and understanding the South West Western Australian rainfall record using the Dome Summit South ice core, East Antarctica Yaowen Zheng, Steven J. Phipps, Jason L. Roberts, and Lenneke M. Jong https://doi.org/10.25959/5f4c50b7b661f

Yaowen Zheng et al.

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Short summary
South West Western Australia has experienced a prolonged drought in recent decades. The causes of this drought are unclear. We use an ice core from East Antarctica to reconstruct changes in rainfall over the past 2,000 years. We find that the current drought is unusual, with only two other droughts of similar severity having occurred during this period. Climate modelling shows that greenhouse gas emissions during the industrial era are likely to have contributed to the recent drying trend.
South West Western Australia has experienced a prolonged drought in recent decades. The causes...
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