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The climate reconstruction potential of Acacia cambagei (gidgee) for semi-arid regions of Australia using stable isotopes and elemental abundances

journal contribution
posted on 2018-03-13, 00:00 authored by GB Witt, NB English, D Balanzategui, Q Hua, P Gadd, H Heijnis, MI Bird
To provide multi-centennial, annually-resolved records of climate for arid and semi-arid areas of Australia it is necessary to investigate the potential climate signals in tree species in this large region. Using a stable isotope and x-ray fluorescence approach to dendrochronology in Acacia cambagei, this study demonstrates short (10 years) proxies of temperature and precipitation are possible. Because rings in A. cambagei are difficult to see, precluding traditional dendrochronology, we used elemental abun- dances of Ca and Sr as an annual chronometer back to 1962. Radiocarbon analysis confirmed that our dating of wood from two trees. We compared d13C and d18O from the a-cellulose of the dated wood over the most recent 10 years (n 1⁄4 10) to local climate records demonstrating significant relationships be- tween d18O and precipitation (r 1⁄4 0.85, p < 0.002); mean monthly maximum temperature (r 1⁄4 0.69, p < 0.03); and drought indexes (CRU scPDSI 0.5 , r 1⁄4 0.89, p < 0.001) for February and March. Acacia cambagei may be useful in developing regional networks of climate proxies for drought. Using modern trees, in combination with architectural timbers, it may be possible to construct a multi-century, annually-resolved proxy-record of rainfall and temperature for semi-arid north-eastern Australia.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)




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Academic Press

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

University of Queensland; German Research Centre for Geosciences, Germany; Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation; James Cook University

Era Eligible

  • Yes


Journal of Arid Environments