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Conference programme


Please open/download this PDF for the full AQUA 2016 programme (3MB PDF).

This includes speaker and poster schedules, details about events, and abstracts. 


Please open/download this calendar [PDF 58Kb]  for the abbreviated schedule of events for AQUA 2016.

Special symposia

Overviews about special symposia and their convenors. 

Evolution and impacts of ENSO

Convenors: Michael-Shawn Fletcher, Michela Mariani, Kristen Beck, Haidee Cadd

Overview: This session was all about the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and seeks to explore how the palaeo-record can inform us about the evolution and impacts of ENSO through time. Presentations were welcome that shed light on any aspect of ENSO, such as how ENSO variability is manifest in proxy records; how ENSO drives climatic change, terrestrial and marine ecosystem dynamics, biomass burning and/or other natural processes; how ENSO interacts with other climate features; the development of new potential ENSO proxies; or novel analyses that seek to tease apart the relative influences of ENSO and other factors from proxy records.

Southern Hemisphere Assessment of PalaeoEnvironments (INQUA PALCOM IFG)

Convenor: Andrew Lorrey

Overview: The Southern Hemisphere (SH) contains critical elements of the Earth’s climate system. The role of the SH in determining how Earth’s climate responds to, or initiates, global changes and the fate of the SH in light of current climate change are open-ended discussion points. Examination of climate oscillations over glacial-interglacial periods has coarsely outlined changes related to insolation forcing and climate system feedbacks through the Quaternary, but a more detailed perspective from the SH is required for a meaningful global synthesis. Projects aligned to the SHAPE IFG in PALCOM are seeking to reconstruct atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns through glacial-interglacial cycles using both proxy data and climate model simulations. This session welcomes presentations focused on:

  • SH circulation structure & modes
  • associated patterns of terrestrial environmental change leading into and coming out of periods of change
  • timing of major changes (and whether they are regionally, hemispherically and/or globally synchronous)
  • identification of triggers of change via lead-lag relationships
  • linking low-frequency change to high-frequency variability seen in some archives (glacial advances and retreats, hydroclimatic state in speleothems, ice cores, pollen/ecological changes, tree rings/corals, etc.)
  • archetypal patterns associated with climate phenomena and changing patterns of teleconnections within the climate system over time.
  • external drivers of climatic change during the Quaternary, including orbital changes, volcanic eruptions and changes in solar irradiance

Millennial-scale variability and environmental change : OIS5-Present

Convenors: Shaun Eaves, Helen Bostock, John Tibby.

Overview: Millennial-scale variability is a prominent feature of Quaternary glacial climate, and glacial-interglacial transitions. For instance, MIS3 is characterised by substantial millennial scale climate variability in a variety of proxy records.  However, the nature of variability in Australasia has been analysed from a limited number of sites. Understanding the drivers and mechanisms behind these oscillations is fundamental to the development of a unifying ice age theory, and may also provide insight to future ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions. We invite submissions including (but not limited to), proxy-based climate reconstructions and climate modelling experiments, that help to characterise and understand millennial-scale climate variability during the late Quaternary.

Australasian peats and their potential

Convenors: Emily Field, Patrick Moss, Len Martin

Overview: Peatlands are excellent archives of environmental and climatic change and are estimated to contain up to 30% of the global soil carbon pool, therefore playing a vital role in the global carbon cycle. Whilst most peat forming environments are undoubtedly found in the northern high latitudes, a wide variety exist in Australia and New Zealand, often in small, niche environments. They are therefore sensitive archives of change across a region which can otherwise prove elusive with regards to high resolution, continuous records. This session provides a platform for showcasing palaeoenvironmental research being undertaken on Australasian peat and organic sediment deposits challenging the misconception that the region hosts few, if any peatlands. We welcome presentations on all topics of peat-related palaeoenvironmental research (but not exclusively) including the development of new records, a variety of proxies (eg. testate amoebae, humification, plant macrofossils, diatoms, pollen, ITRAX, stable isotopes etc.), peatland hydrology, geochronological approaches, and carbon flux through time. EndFragment

Late Quaternary human impacts and activities in Australasia and Oceania

Convenors: Craig Woodward, Krystyna Saunders

Overview: Australasia and Oceania were settled by humans in multiple phases during the Late Quaternary. This includes a period of earlier (> 60,000 BP) settlement of Indonesia and Australia, the colonisation of Polynesia up until ca. 800 BP and the arrival of Europeans in the last few centuries. Human activities have had a major effect on the environment in this area including the destruction or alteration of natural habitats and the extinction of many plant and animal species. The diverse settlement history provides us with many challenges and opportunities for studying human impacts on the environment in this region. Long settlement histories (e.g. Aboriginals in Australia) provide challenges in terms of disentangling the effects of climate and humans on the landscape. Shorter settlement histories (e.g. Melanesian/Polynesian occupation of south Pacific Islands, Polynesians, Māori and Europeans in New Zealand) provide us with the opportunity to study the natural evolution of ecosystems during the Holocene and determine baseline conditions. This session will focus on the “footprint” of human activity in Australasia and Oceania seen through the lens of multiple techniques. This includes but is not limited to environmental records (e.g. charcoal, pollen, diatoms, geochemistry) of environmental change from natural archives such as lakes, peat deposits and estuaries, archaeological and documentary records, paleoecological records of changes in faunal assemblages (e.g. from cave deposits), and emerging techniques such as high-resolution scanning x-ray fluorescence and ancient DNA. EndFragment

Extending Tephras (EXTRAS): characterising, mapping, dating and applications

Convenor: David Lowe

Overview: A broad aim of the international tephra community for the next decade is the enhancement of tephrochronology as a global research tool and its application (often through collaborative projects such as CELL50K, INTIMATE, SHAPE) in multiple Quaternary disciplines including geochronology and volcanology. The aim is encapsulated by the EXTRAS project “EXTending TephRAS as a global geoscientific research tool stratigraphically, spatially, analytically, and temporally within the Quaternary” being led by INQUA’s International focus group on tephrochronology and volcanism (INTAV).  Contributions to this symposium from researchers involved in the study of tephras or cryptotephras is encouraged, with topics including (but not limited to) the following:

  1. Application and evaluation of current and emerging technologies to identify and map proximal-to-distal tephras and cryptotephras to establish their spatial and stratigraphic interrelationships, and thus to facilitate their use as chronostratigraphic units or as a basis for documenting volcanic eruption histories and hazards.
  2. Application  and evaluation of current and emerging methods to characterize tephra and cryptotephra constituents mineralogically and chemically using formalised protocols that enhance data quality and quantities.
  3. Improvments to age models for tephras and cryptotephras to revamp existing age models for key volcanological, palaeoclimatic, archaeological or other events or sequences.
  4. Application and development of objective ways of correlating tephras and cryptotephras from place to place using statistical techniques and measures of (un)certainty.
  5. Development of regional and ultimately global databases of high-quality mineral, chemical, and other data (stratigraphic, chronologic, spatial) for tephras and cryptotephras.

Quaternary coastal dynamics (INQUA CMP)

Convenors: Craig Sloss, Patrick Moss, and Lynda Petherick

Overview: Changes in eustatic global sea levels, and the role of regional factors (such as isostatic adjustment and other environmental forcing), have significantly influenced coastal and marine processes and depositional environments over the Quaternary. Researchers working on questions related to changes in coastal and marine environments are invited to present their work in this broadly-themed session. Suggested themes include (but not limited to):

- coastal landscape evolution; 

- impacts of a changing climate;

- submerged coastal landscapes;

-   human and landscape interaction in coastal environments, and;

-  changes in continental and other deep sea margin systems.




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