AEKOS Data Stories - Kale Sniderman

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AEKOS's data reused to solve ancient pollen questions" - Dr Kale Sniderman

“Our study used fossil pollen from the Nullarbor to reconstruct the climate of this region between 3 and 5 million years ago. The palaeoclimatic interpretations depended critically on the availability of plant occurrence data, at plot scale. ”

This project documented the evolution of Southern Hemisphere subtropical precipitation during the Pliocene epoch, between 5 to 3 million year ago using radiometrically-dated fossil pollen records preserved in speleothems (stalagmites and other cave carbonates) from caves under the Nullarbor Plain.

Our understanding of Pliocene climates is limited by poor age control on existing terrestrial climate archives and by persistent disagreement between paleo-data and models concerning the magnitude of regional warming and/or wetting that occurred in response to increased greenhouse forcing.

Pliocene Nullarbor precipitation was estimated by first determining the modern taxonomic affinities of the fossils, then interpreting the climate tolerances of those extant taxa by collating plant occurrence data, at plot scale, including ÆKOS data. We used generalised additive models to develop probabilistic estimates of the climate millions of years ago when the source plants of the fossil pollen were growing on the Nullarbor Plain. Our probabilistic palaeoclimate estimates depended critically on the availability of plot, or quadrat data, and would not have been possible using presence-absence data alone.

Kale’s research interest is broadly in environmental change, over Cenozoic to historical time frames. His current research focuses on extracting fossil pollen from stalagmites and other cave carbonates, in order to document the evolution of Australasian climates and vegetation.   Read More