Ancient wetlands offer window into climate change | 9/11/2017 | Staff
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Environmental researchers have uncovered a wealth of information about a unique part of Australia that offers never-before-seen insights into climate change since the last ice age.

The work – led by the University of Adelaide, and involving scientists from the Queensland Government, and members of the local community – has uncovered what the researchers describe as a "treasure trove" of ancient wetlands on Queensland's North Stradbroke Island (known to Indigenous communities as Minjerribah), some dating as old as 200,000 years ago.

Journal - Quaternary - Science - Research - Details

Now published in the Journal of Quaternary Science, the research details the development of wetlands on the island, at a time when water across Australia was scarce.

"There are more wetlands on North Stradbroke Island dating to the last ice age than anywhere else in Australia," says project leader Dr John Tibby, Acting Head of the Department of Geography, Environment and Population at the University of Adelaide.

Australia - Ice - Age - Today - Water

"Australia was much drier during the last ice age than it is today, as most of the water was held in large ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. Right across Australia there were few wetlands during this time, which raises the question: where and how did plants and animals survive that needed permanent water?

"The island, and possibly even the region itself, may have been a refuge from dry climates," Dr Tibby says.

Dr - Jonathan - Marshall - Principal - Scientist

Dr Jonathan Marshall, Principal Scientist with the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, says their work has demonstrated that North Stradbroke Island "is an Australian exception."

John Tibby and Cameron Barr.

Wetlands - Island - Ice - Age - Years

"We cored and dated 16 wetlands on the island and found six dating to the ice age or earlier, with one being more than 200,000 years old," Dr Marshall says.

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