A pluvial episode identified in arid Australia during the Medieval Climatic Anomaly

T. J. Cohen*, G. C. Nanson, J. D. Jansen, L. A. Gliganic, J. H. May, J. R. Larsen, I. D. Goodwin, S. Browning, D. M. Price

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages from a relict shoreline on Lake Callabonna record a major pluvial episode in southern central Australia between 1050 ± 70 and 1100 ± 60 Common Era (CE), within the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (MCA). During this pluvial interval Lake Callabonna filled to 10-12 times the volume of the largest historical filling (1974) and reached maximum depths of 4-5 m, compared to the 0.5-1.0 m achieved today. Until now there has been no direct evidence for the MCA in the arid interior of Australia. A multi-proxy, analogue-based atmospheric circulation reconstruction indicates that the pluvial episode was associated with an anomalous meridional atmospheric circulation pattern over the Southern extratropics, with high sea-level pressure ridges in the central Indian Ocean and Tasman Sea, and a trough extending from the Southern Ocean into central Australia. A major decline in the mobility of the Australian aboriginal hunter-gatherer coincides with this MCA period, in southern central Australia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)167-171
    Number of pages5
    JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2012


    • mega lake
    • lake callabonna
    • medieval climatic anomaly
    • OSI
    • palaeoshoreline


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