Journal article

The paleoclimate context and future trajectory of extreme summer hydroclimate in eastern Australia

Benjamin I Cook, Jonathan G Palmer, Edward R Cook, Chris SM Turney, Kathryn Allen, Pavla Fenwick, Alison O'Donnell, Janice M Lough, Pauline F Grierson, Michelle Ho, Patrick J Baker



Eastern Australia recently experienced an intense drought (Millennium Drought, 2003-2009) and record-breaking rainfall and flooding (austral summer 2010-2011). There is some limited evidence for a climate change contribution to these events, but such analyses are hampered by the paucity of information on long-term natural variability. Analyzing a new reconstruction of summer (December-January-February) Palmer Drought Severity Index (the Australia-New Zealand Drought Atlas; ANZDA, 1500-2012 CE), we find moisture deficits during the Millennium Drought fall within the range of the last 500 years of natural hydroclimate variability. This variability includes periods of multi-decadal drought in t..

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Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

C.S.M.T. thanks the Australian Research Council for the provision of a Laureate Fellowship. Support was provided by the Australian Research Council through grants FL100100195, and DP130104156 to C.S.M. Turney, LP120100310 to P.F. Grierson, and DP0878744, DP120104320, LP120200811, and FT120100715 for P.J. Baker. B.I. Cook is supported by NASA. The ANZDA is freely available from the NOAA Paleoclimate Archive ( Thanks to David Karoly and two anonymous reviewers for providing comments that greatly improved the quality of this manuscript. The authors also thank Linden Ashcroft, for providing the extended precipitation record for Southeastern Australia and additional valuable comments. Lamont contribution 8070.