Penguins, science and history combine in climate study

ll15-184-kerry-jayne-wilson-leading-light-awards-night-2015Trust Chair, Kerry-Jayne Wilson, is one of many contributing authors to an important scientific paper using tree-rings and both past and recent weather records to analyse climate variation in the New Zealand sub-Antarctic region since the 1870’s.

Climate has become more variable and sea-surface temperatures have increased since the mid 20th century.  Kerry-Jayne’s small contribution to this highly technical paper is a summary of declines in elephant seal, penguin, albatross and shearwater populations during this period of climate variability and sea water warming.

The paper can be found at

This paper is an outcome from the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013/14 on which Kerry-Jayne was the ornithologist.  Weather and oceanographic records for Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition a century ago (1912/14) were crucial in making this research possible.

Short summary of paper:

“The Southern Ocean plays a fundamental role in global climate but suffers from a dearth of observational data. As the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013–2014 we have developed the first annually-resolved temperature record using trees from subantarctic southwest Pacific (52˚–54˚S) to extend the climate record back to 1870. With modeling we show today’s high climate variability became established in the ~1940s and likely driven by a Rossby wave response originating from the tropical Pacific.”