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    Historical droughts in Southeast Australia recorded in a New South Wales stalagmite

    Scroxton, Nick and Walczak, Maureen and Markowska, Monika and Zhao, Jian-xin and Fallon, Stewart (2021) Historical droughts in Southeast Australia recorded in a New South Wales stalagmite. The Holocene, 31 (4). pp. 607-617. ISSN 0959-6836

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    The Murray Darling Basin contains 40% of Australia’s farms and is subject to multi-year droughts that put severe pressure on southeast Australia’s freshwater resources. Yet the long-term frequency, timing and potential severity of these droughts is unknown, as there are few high-resolution paleoclimate records from the basin that extend past the instrumental era. In this study, we investigate the potential of stalagmites from Careys Cave, Wee Jasper, in the Murray-Darling Basin to record past droughts. We use a multiproxy approach of stalagmite stable isotopes, trace element data, and climate reanalysis. We show that (a) stalagmite δ18O at this site likely records either local or regional precipitation amount and (b) stalagmite δ18O shows reasonable coherence with decadal-scale wet and dry changes in regional rainfall over the last 150 years, including the Federation Drought (1895–1902). Therefore, stalagmites from Wee Jasper can be used to draw regional inferences about past rainfall and have potential to extend the record of past droughts in the Murray Darling Basin beyond the limits of historical data. Extracting such a record will enable a better understanding of the causes of multi-year droughts in the region and consequently better planning, mitigation, and resilience in the basin.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Cite as: Scroxton, N., Walczak, M., Markowska, M., Zhao, J. & Fallon, S. 2021, "Historical droughts in Southeast Australia recorded in a New South Wales stalagmite", Holocene (Sevenoaks), vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 607-617.
    Keywords: Australia; drought; Murray-Darling Basin; Speleothem; stable oxygen isotopes; stalagmite; trace elements; U-Th dating;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units, ICARUS
    Item ID: 17800
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Nick Scroxton
    Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2023 10:07
    Journal or Publication Title: The Holocene
    Publisher: SAGE Publications
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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