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Turney C.S.M.,University of New South Wales | Jones R.T.,University of Exeter | Fogwill C.,University of New South Wales | Hatton J.,University of Exeter | And 7 more authors.
Climate of the Past | Year: 2016

Southern Hemisphere westerly airflow has a significant influence on the ocean-atmosphere system of the mid-to high latitudes with potentially global climate implications. Unfortunately, historic observations only extend back to the late 19th century, limiting our understanding of multi-decadal to centennial change. Here we present a highly resolved (30-year) record of past westerly wind strength from a Falkland Islands peat sequence spanning the last 2600 years. Situated within the core latitude of Southern Hemisphere westerly airflow (the so-called furious fifties), we identify highly variable changes in exotic pollen and charcoal derived from South America which can be used to inform on past westerly air strength. We find a period of high charcoal content between 2000 and 1000. BP, associated with increased burning in Patagonia, most probably as a result of higher temperatures and stronger westerly airflow. Spectral analysis of the charcoal record identifies a pervasive ca. 250-year periodicity that is coherent with radiocarbon production rates, suggesting that solar variability has a modulating influence on Southern Hemisphere westerly airflow. Our results have important implications for understanding global climate change through the late Holocene. © 2016 Author(s). Source


Williams A.N.,Australian National University | Williams A.N.,Archaeological and Heritage Management Solutions Pty Ltd | Ulm S.,James Cook University | Turney C.S.M.,University of New South Wales | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

A continental-scale model of Holocene Australian hunter-gatherer demography and mobility is generated using radiocarbon data and geospatial techniques. Results show a delayed expansion and settlement of much of Australia following the termination of the late Pleistocene until after 9,000 years ago (or 9ka). The onset of the Holocene climatic optimum (9-6ka) coincides with rapid expansion, growth and establishment of regional populations across ∼75% of Australia, including much of the arid zone. This diffusion from isolated Pleistocene refugia provides a mechanism for the synchronous spread of pan-continental archaeological and linguistic attributes at this time (e.g. Pama-Nyungan language, Panaramitee art style, backed artefacts). We argue longer patch residence times were possible at the end of the optimum, resulting in a shift to more sedentary lifestyles and establishment of low-level food production in some parts of the continent. The onset of El Niño - Southern Oscillation (ENSO; 4.5-2ka) restricted low-level food production, and resulted in population fragmentation, abandonment of marginal areas, and reduction in ranging territory of ∼26%. Importantly, climate amelioration brought about by more pervasive La Niña conditions (post-2ka), resulted in an intensification of the mobility strategies and technological innovations that were developed in the early- to mid-Holocene. These changes resulted in population expansion and utilization of the entire continent. We propose that it was under these demographically packed conditions that the complex social and religious societies observed at colonial contact were formed. © 2015 Williams et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source


Nutley D.M.,Comber Consultants | Coroneos C.,Cosmos Archaeology | Wheeler J.,Archaeological and Heritage Management Solutions Pty Ltd
Geological Society Special Publication | Year: 2016

Sealed, submerged palaeoenvironmental deposits date the time range for lithic technologies and enable inferences about cultural change-potentially more accurately than radiometric methods. Sea-level rises triggered by global warming reduce available land, and change the availability of flora, fauna, geological resources, rivers and wetlands. Australian archaeological studies on human adaptation to climate change focus mainly on terrestrial sites, coastal intensification and the few archaeological sites that were not inundated. The South West Arm project at Port Hacking, south of Sydney, looks at the potential for rock shelters to survive inundation and expand the sites available for studying human adaption to climate change. Site prediction was based on recorded terrestrial rock-shelter landforms at South West Arm. Underwater surveys were conducted by divers who located, photographed and mapped similar formations. No excavation was conducted. The pre-disturbance survey examined approximately 1800 m of seabed, between water depths of 0 and 9 m, primarily along the eastern shoreline of South West Arm where the seabed emulates the steep slope, with sandstone rock outcrops that form terraces and rock overhangs above water. Twelve submerged rock overhangs were recorded and confirmed the potential for rock-shelter sites to survive the process of inundation. © The Geological Society of London 2016. Source


McIntyre-Tamwoy S.,Archaeological and Heritage Management Solutions Pty Ltd | McIntyre-Tamwoy S.,James Cook University | Greer S.,James Cook University | Henry R.,James Cook University
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

This paper describes a stone arrangement on Pabaju (Albany Island) near the tip of Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia. The island is part of the traditional lands of the Gudang Aboriginal people. The site 'Tarrungi' is one of a number of stone arrangements in this area, which we interpret as the tangible evidence of ritual exchange within a regional cosmo-political landscape. The site on Pabaju is important as it has not suffered the same degree of disturbance from tourists as similar sites on the nearby Australian mainland. The presence of buttons, flaked glass and other artefacts on the site are suggestive of rituals enacted just after European settlement. This was at a time of significant social and political upheaval for the Gudang people who bore the brunt of the impact of European settlement in the region as the settlement of Somerset was located in the heartland of their traditional lands a mere 3 km south south-east of Tarrungi. In this paper we explore the relationship between ritual, cosmological re-working of contested landscapes and colonial settlement through the lens of an archaeological site on one of Australia's most northerly islands. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. Source


Williams A.N.,Australian National University | Williams A.N.,Archaeological and Heritage Management Solutions Pty Ltd
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2013

This paper presents a newreconstruction of prehistoric population of Australia for the last 50 ka, using the most comprehensive radiocarbon database currently available for the continent. The application of new techniques to manipulate radiocarbon data (including correction for taphonomic bias), gives greater reliability to the reconstructed population curve. This shows low populations through the Late Pleistocene, before a slow stepwise increase in population beginning during the Holocene transition (approx. 12 ka) and continuing in pulses (approx. 8.3-6.6, 4.4-3.7 and 1.6-0.4 ka) through the Holocene. These data give no support for an early saturation of the continent, although the estimated population following initial landfall was probably greater than previously allowed (comparable with the Early Holocene). The greatest increase in population occurred in the Late Holocene, but in contrast to existing intensification models, changes in demography and diversification of economic activities began much earlier. Some demographic changes appear to be in response to major climatic events, most notably during the last glacial maximum, where the curve suggests that population fell by about 60 per cent between 21 and 18 ka. An application of statistical demographic methods to Australian ethnographic and genetic data suggests that a founding group of 1000-2000 at 50 ka would result in a population high of approximately 1.2 million at approximately 0.5 ka. Data suggests an 8 per cent decline to approximately 770 000-1.1 million at the time of European contact, giving a figure consistent with ethnographic estimates and with historical observations of the impact of smallpox, and other diseases introduced by Macassans and Europeans during and after AD 1788. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. Source

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