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147234 - Extending and understanding the South West Western Australian rainfall record.pdf (995.8 kB)

Extending and understanding the South West Western Australian rainfall record using a snowfall reconstruction from Law Dome, East Antarctica

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posted on 2023-05-21, 03:20 authored by Zheng, Y, Lenneke JongLenneke Jong, Phipps, SJ, Jason RobertsJason Roberts, Andrew MoyAndrew Moy, Mark Curran, Tasman van OmmenTasman van Ommen
South West Western Australia (SWWA) has experienced a prolonged reduction in rainfall in recent decades, with associated reductions in regional water supply and residential and agricultural impacts. The cause of the reduction has been widely considered but remains unclear. The relatively short length of the instrumental record limits long-term investigation. A previous proxy-based study used a statistically negative correlation between SWWA rainfall and snowfall from the Dome Summit South (DSS) ice core drilling site, Law Dome, East Antarctica, and concluded that the anomaly of recent decades is unprecedented over the ∼ 750-year period of the study (1250–2004 CE). Here, we extend the snow accumulation record to cover the period from 22 BCE to 2015 CE and derive a rainfall reconstruction over this extended period. This extended record confirms that the recent anomaly is unique in the period since 1250 CE and unusual over the full ∼ 2000-year period, with just two other earlier droughts of similar duration and intensity. The reconstruction shows that SWWA rainfall started to decrease around 1971 CE. Ensembles of climate model simulations are used to investigate the potential roles of natural variability and external climate drivers in explaining changes in SWWA rainfall. We find that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are likely to have contributed towards the SWWA rainfall drying trend after 1971 CE. However, natural variability may also have played a role in determining the timing and magnitude of the reduction in rainfall.


Publication title

Climate of the Past










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Copernicus GmbH

Place of publication


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© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License. (

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  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Climate variability (excl. social impacts)

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