Evidence for extreme floods in arid subtropical northwest Australia during the Little Ice Age chronozone (CE 1400-1850)

Alexandra Rouillard, Greg Skrzypek, C. Turney, Shawan Dogramaci, Q. Hua, A. Zawadzki, J. Reeves, Paul Greenwood, Alison O'Donnell, Pauline Grierson

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Abstract

© 2016 Elsevier Ltd.Here we report a ~2000-year sediment sequence from the Fortescue Marsh (Martuyitha) in the eastern Pilbara region, which we have used to investigate changing hydroclimatic conditions in the arid subtropics of northwest Australia. The Pilbara is located at the intersection of the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans and its modern rainfall regime is strongly influenced by tropical cyclones, the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool. We identified four distinct periods within the record. The most recent period (P1: CE ~1990-present) reveals hydroclimatic conditions over recent decades that are the most persistently wet of potentially the last ~2000 years. During the previous centuries (P2: ~CE 1600-1990), the Fortescue Marsh was overall drier but likely punctuated by a number of extreme floods, which are defined here as extraordinary, strongly episodic floods in drylands generated by rainfall events of high volume and intensity. The occurrence of extreme floods during this period, which encompasses the Little Ice Age (LIA; CE 1400-1850), is coherent with other southern tropical datasets along the ITCZ over the last 2000 years, suggesting synchronous hydroclimatic changes across the region. This extreme flood period was preceded by several hundred years (P3: ~CE 700-1600) of less vigorous but more regular flows. The earliest period of the sediment record (P4: ~CE 100-700) was the most arid, with sedimentary and preservation processes driven by prolonged drought. Our results highlight the importance of developing paleoclimate records from the tropical and sub-tropical arid zone, providing a long-term baseline of hydrological conditions in areas with limited historical observations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-122
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume144
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Little Ice Age
natural disaster
ice
intertropical convergence zone
marshes
evidence
marsh
rain
sediments
rainfall
warm pool
hurricanes
dry environmental conditions
drought
subtropics
Indian Ocean
tropical cyclone
paleoclimate
arid lands
Pacific Ocean

Cite this

@article{87179a328c5d4d69ae71cc1798d3014b,
title = "Evidence for extreme floods in arid subtropical northwest Australia during the Little Ice Age chronozone (CE 1400-1850)",
abstract = "{\circledC} 2016 Elsevier Ltd.Here we report a ~2000-year sediment sequence from the Fortescue Marsh (Martuyitha) in the eastern Pilbara region, which we have used to investigate changing hydroclimatic conditions in the arid subtropics of northwest Australia. The Pilbara is located at the intersection of the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans and its modern rainfall regime is strongly influenced by tropical cyclones, the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool. We identified four distinct periods within the record. The most recent period (P1: CE ~1990-present) reveals hydroclimatic conditions over recent decades that are the most persistently wet of potentially the last ~2000 years. During the previous centuries (P2: ~CE 1600-1990), the Fortescue Marsh was overall drier but likely punctuated by a number of extreme floods, which are defined here as extraordinary, strongly episodic floods in drylands generated by rainfall events of high volume and intensity. The occurrence of extreme floods during this period, which encompasses the Little Ice Age (LIA; CE 1400-1850), is coherent with other southern tropical datasets along the ITCZ over the last 2000 years, suggesting synchronous hydroclimatic changes across the region. This extreme flood period was preceded by several hundred years (P3: ~CE 700-1600) of less vigorous but more regular flows. The earliest period of the sediment record (P4: ~CE 100-700) was the most arid, with sedimentary and preservation processes driven by prolonged drought. Our results highlight the importance of developing paleoclimate records from the tropical and sub-tropical arid zone, providing a long-term baseline of hydrological conditions in areas with limited historical observations.",
author = "Alexandra Rouillard and Greg Skrzypek and C. Turney and Shawan Dogramaci and Q. Hua and A. Zawadzki and J. Reeves and Paul Greenwood and Alison O'Donnell and Pauline Grierson",
year = "2016",
doi = "10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.05.004",
language = "English",
volume = "144",
pages = "107--122",
journal = "Quaternary Science Reviews",
issn = "0277-3791",
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TY - JOUR

T1 - Evidence for extreme floods in arid subtropical northwest Australia during the Little Ice Age chronozone (CE 1400-1850)

AU - Rouillard, Alexandra

AU - Skrzypek, Greg

AU - Turney, C.

AU - Dogramaci, Shawan

AU - Hua, Q.

AU - Zawadzki, A.

AU - Reeves, J.

AU - Greenwood, Paul

AU - O'Donnell, Alison

AU - Grierson, Pauline

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.Here we report a ~2000-year sediment sequence from the Fortescue Marsh (Martuyitha) in the eastern Pilbara region, which we have used to investigate changing hydroclimatic conditions in the arid subtropics of northwest Australia. The Pilbara is located at the intersection of the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans and its modern rainfall regime is strongly influenced by tropical cyclones, the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool. We identified four distinct periods within the record. The most recent period (P1: CE ~1990-present) reveals hydroclimatic conditions over recent decades that are the most persistently wet of potentially the last ~2000 years. During the previous centuries (P2: ~CE 1600-1990), the Fortescue Marsh was overall drier but likely punctuated by a number of extreme floods, which are defined here as extraordinary, strongly episodic floods in drylands generated by rainfall events of high volume and intensity. The occurrence of extreme floods during this period, which encompasses the Little Ice Age (LIA; CE 1400-1850), is coherent with other southern tropical datasets along the ITCZ over the last 2000 years, suggesting synchronous hydroclimatic changes across the region. This extreme flood period was preceded by several hundred years (P3: ~CE 700-1600) of less vigorous but more regular flows. The earliest period of the sediment record (P4: ~CE 100-700) was the most arid, with sedimentary and preservation processes driven by prolonged drought. Our results highlight the importance of developing paleoclimate records from the tropical and sub-tropical arid zone, providing a long-term baseline of hydrological conditions in areas with limited historical observations.

AB - © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.Here we report a ~2000-year sediment sequence from the Fortescue Marsh (Martuyitha) in the eastern Pilbara region, which we have used to investigate changing hydroclimatic conditions in the arid subtropics of northwest Australia. The Pilbara is located at the intersection of the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans and its modern rainfall regime is strongly influenced by tropical cyclones, the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool. We identified four distinct periods within the record. The most recent period (P1: CE ~1990-present) reveals hydroclimatic conditions over recent decades that are the most persistently wet of potentially the last ~2000 years. During the previous centuries (P2: ~CE 1600-1990), the Fortescue Marsh was overall drier but likely punctuated by a number of extreme floods, which are defined here as extraordinary, strongly episodic floods in drylands generated by rainfall events of high volume and intensity. The occurrence of extreme floods during this period, which encompasses the Little Ice Age (LIA; CE 1400-1850), is coherent with other southern tropical datasets along the ITCZ over the last 2000 years, suggesting synchronous hydroclimatic changes across the region. This extreme flood period was preceded by several hundred years (P3: ~CE 700-1600) of less vigorous but more regular flows. The earliest period of the sediment record (P4: ~CE 100-700) was the most arid, with sedimentary and preservation processes driven by prolonged drought. Our results highlight the importance of developing paleoclimate records from the tropical and sub-tropical arid zone, providing a long-term baseline of hydrological conditions in areas with limited historical observations.

U2 - 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.05.004

DO - 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.05.004

M3 - Article

VL - 144

SP - 107

EP - 122

JO - Quaternary Science Reviews

JF - Quaternary Science Reviews

SN - 0277-3791

ER -