University Of Tasmania
147755 - Compound climate extremes driving recent sub-continental tree mortality.pdf (2.28 MB)
Download file

Compound climate extremes driving recent sub-continental tree mortality in northern Australia have no precedent in recent centuries

Download (2.28 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 04:08 authored by Kathryn AllenKathryn Allen, Vernon-Kidd, DC, Sippo, JZ, Baker, PJ
Compound climate extremes (CCEs) can have significant and persistent environmental impacts on ecosystems. However, knowledge of the occurrence of CCEs beyond the past ~ 50 years, and hence their ecological impacts, is limited. Here, we place the widespread 2015–16 mangrove dieback and the more recent 2020 inland native forest dieback events in northern Australia into a longer historical context using locally relevant palaeoclimate records. Over recent centuries, multiple occurrences of analogous antecedent and coincident climate conditions associated with the mangrove dieback event were identified in this compilation. However, rising sea level—a key antecedent condition—over the three decades prior to the mangrove dieback is unprecedented in the past 220 years. Similarly, dieback in inland forests and savannas was associated with a multi-decadal wetting trend followed by the longest and most intense drought conditions of the past 250 years, coupled with rising temperatures. While many ecological communities may have experienced CCEs in past centuries, the addition of new environmental stressors associated with varying aspects of global change may exceed their thresholds of resilience. Palaeoclimate compilations provide the much-needed longer term context to better assess frequency and changes in some types of CCEs and their environmental impacts.


Publication title

Scientific Reports



Article number









School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Nature Publishing Group

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Climate variability (excl. social impacts); Effects of climate change on Australia (excl. social impacts); Understanding climate change not elsewhere classified

Usage metrics