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Researchers hope Qld tree will unlock climate history

By Jessica Nairn, Wednesday February 13, 2013 - 09:41 EDT

Scientists say a species of tree in far north Queensland could hold an insight into the state's tropical climate of the past 400 years.

A team of James Cook University (JCU) researchers is studying the tree rings of a species of pine in the Atherton Tablelands, west of Cairns.

JCU spokesman Dr Nathan English says it was previously thought the rapid growth of trees in the tropics meant the tree rings did not reveal reliable information.

However, he says kauri pine trees could be suitable and reveal an insight into the climate history.

Dr English says the study could fill the gap in knowledge about the tropical climate.

"It's like getting to know a person better and in getting to know a person better you're able to better kind of forecast how they might respond to different events in the future," he said.

"Instead of just knowing the last 100, 150 years of Queensland rainfall history, if we know the last 400 to 800 years, we'll have a much better idea of how that rainfall responds.

He says over the next three years scientists will sample a lot of kauri pine trees.

"Trying to look at [what] the whole population of kauri pine trees in north Queensland is doing, with respect to climate, particularly with rainfall," he said.

"From that, have some understanding of how Queensland precipitation responds to these global features that may or may not change in the future."


© ABC 2013

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