Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2022-13
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2022-13
 
07 Mar 2022
07 Mar 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Piloting novel multi-centennial palaeoclimate records from mainland southeast Australia

Jacinda A. O'Connor1, Benjamin J. Henley1,2,3,4, Matthew T. Brookhouse5, and Kathryn J. Allen6,7,8 Jacinda A. O'Connor et al.
  • 1School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University, Clayton, 3800, Australia
  • 2Department of Infrastructure Engineering, University of Melbourne, Parkville, 3010, Australia
  • 3Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF), Monash University, Clayton, 3800, Australia
  • 4Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes (CLEX), Monash University, Clayton, 3800, Australia
  • 5Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Acton 2600, Australia
  • 6School of Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay 7005, Australia
  • 7School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, University of Melbourne, Richmond 3121, Australia
  • 8Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, University of New South Wales, Kensington, 2052, Australia

Abstract. High-resolution palaeoclimate proxies are fundamental to our understanding of the diverse climatic history of the Australian mainland, particularly given the deficiency in instrumental datasets spanning greater than a century. Annually resolved, tree-ring based proxies play a unique role in addressing limitations in our knowledge of interannual to multi-decadal temperature and hydroclimatic variability prior to the instrumental period. Here we present cross-dated ring-width (RW) and minimum blue-intensity (BI) chronologies spanning 70 years (1929 – 1998) for Podocarpus lawrencei Hook.f., the Australian mainland's only alpine conifer, based on nine full-disk cross-sections from Mount Loch in the Victorian Alps. Correlations with climate variables from observation stations and gridded data reveal a significant positive relationship between RW and mean monthly maximum temperatures in winter throughout central Victoria (r = 0.62, p < 0.001), and a significant negative correlation to winter precipitation (r = -0.51, p < 0.001). We also found significant negative correlations between RW and monthly snow depth at Spencer Creek in New South Wales (r = -0.60, p < 0.001). Of the assessed BI parameters, delta blue-intensity (ΔBI; the difference between early- and late-wood BI) displayed the greatest sensitivity to climate, with robust spatial correlations with mean October to December maximum and minimum monthly temperatures (r = -0.43, p < 0.001; r = -0.51, p < 0.001) and July precipitation (r = 0.44, p < 0.001), across large areas of northern Victoria. These promising findings highlight the utility of this species for future work. With the very limited availability of suitable long-lived and cross-datable species on the Australian mainland, these results have significant implications for advancing high-resolution palaeoclimate science in southeastern Australia and for improving our understanding of past climate in the region.

Jacinda A. O'Connor et al.

Status: open (until 29 May 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2022-13', Anonymous Referee #1, 19 May 2022 reply

Jacinda A. O'Connor et al.

Jacinda A. O'Connor et al.

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Short summary
Tree-ring records provide a unique window into past climate variability. However, there are few such records from the Australian mainland. We present results from nine cross-sections of an alpine tree species from the Victorian Alps from 1929–1998. The tree ring widths have significant correlations with winter temperature, precipitation and snow depth. The intensity of reflected blue light from the wood surface shows a strong response to growing season temperature and winter precipitation.