Scientists have made a world-class discovery on North Stradbroke Island that they say could rewrite what we know about climate change in Australia since the last ice age.
The researchers took core samples from 16 of the island’s freshwater lakes and swamps – discovering that “for much of the past 40,000 years, and for perhaps much longer, the local environment had remained relatively moist.”
The team, led by Dr John Tibby from the University of Adelaide, found six of the wetlands regions dated back to the Last Glacial Maximum or earlier, with one being more than 200,000 years old.
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“This may partly be due to links between these wetlands and the island’s groundwater systems, which act as water reservoirs during periods of rainfall deficit,” Dr Tibby said.
“During what was otherwise a particularly dry period in Australia’s ancient past, these persistently moist regions are thought to have played a unique role in maintaining biodiversity.
Queensland’s Minister for Science Leeanne Enoch said the research “greatly adds to our understanding of the ancient climatic changes that shaped our country, our wildlife and our first peoples.
“Until now, few Australian sites had offered detailed information about what was happening at wetlands since the last great ice age, which peaked around 15,000 years ago.”