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NIWA conducts a wide range of paleoclimate research to help us define and understand what the climate was doing before we had instruments to record it.

We focus on New Zealand, the Southwest Pacific and the Southern Hemisphere.

Paleoclimate is the study of the Earth’s past climate. The discipline uses a variety of natural archives and methods to determine past climatic changes, including analysis of tree rings, sediments, corals, shells, and fossils which may hold preserved signals of past climate.

We have been actively involved in international research initiatives including:

The work we undertake at our paleoclimate research laboratory in Auckland includes:

  • a range of tree ring analyses, including dendrochronology (tree ring dating) and isotope dendroclimatology (using tree rings to understand past rainfall and temperature changes) of kauri (Agathis australis) tree rings
  • the development of high resolution stable isotope records from coral, otoliths, bivalves and speleothems to understand past climate changes
  • the application of different dating techniques applied to bog sediments, and use of cosmogenic radionuclides to understand past glacial activity in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.