University Of Tasmania

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Hydroclimate proxies for eastern Australia using stable isotopes in grey mangroves (Avicennia marina)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 04:20 authored by Goodwin, MJ, Verdon-Kidd, DC, Hua, Q, English, NB, Haines, HA, Kathryn AllenKathryn Allen

The development of high-resolution terrestrial palaeoclimate records in Australia is hindered by the scarcity of tree species suitable for conventional dendrochronology. However, novel analytical techniques have made it possible to obtain climate information from tree species that do not reliably form annual growth rings. In this paper we assess the potential of stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in the xylem wood of grey mangroves (Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh.) as hydroclimate proxies for eastern Australia. Bomb-pulse radiocarbon dating and simple age models were used to estimate the age of the growth layers in radial sequence in stems from four grey mangrove trees in two adjacent estuaries in New South Wales, Australia. Stable isotope data measured from the xylem wood of the four stems were composited to yield mean δ18O and δ13C series for the 1962–2016 period. Significant negative Spearman correlations were found between δ18O and rainfall, sea level, instrumental Palmer Drought Severity Index (scPDSI) and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), while δ13C was positively correlated with temperature, vapour pressure and evapotranspiration. The results demonstrate that stable oxygen isotopes in grey mangroves have the potential to yield valuable information about pre-instrumental hydroclimate. Grey mangroves can survive with intact centres for an estimate of >250 years based on observed growth rates, are widespread along northern Australian and tropical coastlines and could provide important information regarding pre-instrumental climate in regions currently lacking high-resolution (i.e., near annual) centennial scale climate proxy records.


Publication title

Global and Planetary Change



Article number









School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Elsevier Science Bv

Place of publication

Po Box 211, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1000 Ae

Rights statement

Crown Copyright © 2021 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Repository Status

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Socio-economic Objectives

Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management not elsewhere classified; Ecosystem adaptation to climate change; Climate variability (excl. social impacts)