The Quaternary Environment of Australian Drylands – Capstone Project Example

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The paper "Тhе Quаtеrnаry Environment of Аustrаliаn Drylаnds"  is a delightful example of a capstone project on environmental studies. Introduction and Background The Quaternary Period refers to a subdivision of geological time which covers the period spanning the last 2.5 million years up to present times (Hodgkinson & Garner 2008). The Quaternary period can be further subdivided into the Pleistocene and Holocene Epochs. The importance of reconstructing quaternary climate changes and dynamics is widely recognised (Bridgland et al. , 2007; Bridgland and Westaway, 2008). According to Aldughairi (2013), drylands are excellent arsenals of palaeoclimatic data because landscapes in drylands are a function of processes taking place today and during past environments.

Analyzing desert landscapes allows us to understand past environmental responses to changing conditions and even foretell future responses. Reconstructions of quaternary environments are crucial for making model-data comparisons and in addition, they are significant for future research into environmental dynamics, all of which require greater integration of well-documented and accurate records. In Australia, for instance, the palaeoenvironmental reconstructions of Quaternary fluvial, aeolian, and lacustrine activities give a clear understanding of marked climatic oscillation that occurred during the last two glacial cycles (Nanson et al. , 1992).

This resultantly helps in predicting future climate change in semi and arid regions. This is particularly so because water as a resource is very important and reconstructions of the Quaternary have assisted us to see the changing patterns in rainfall. Furthermore, climate change predictions suggest moving towards a ‘ no analog’ situation (no historical or even Holocene analogs) and as such, early Quaternary analogs may be the closest we have. Despite this importance, however, poor preservation and a lack of depositional sites have caused a lack in palaeoecological activity records for the tropical semi-arid region of northwest Australia (Chappell and Grindrod, 1983).

Additionally, there were more complex sets of drivers control rainfall and runoff which makes future climate changes difficult to predict and this is particularly challenging in semi-arid and arid areas within low latitudes. This gap in information leads to a lack of knowledge in relation to the Quaternary environments of Drylands and the current discussion will, therefore, seek to substantially close this gap by condensing all existing information into one paper. The Quaternary Period Description of the Quaternary Chronology The Quaternary Chronology is widely described as referring to the time period spanning the last 2 million years.

Previously, the Quaternary Period was estimated to have started about 1.8 million years ago, though lately it is increasingly being estimated to be a period that began about 2.5 million years ago due to increasing evidence and research (Hodgkinson & Garner 2008). Reconstructing fluvial dynamics from sedimentary sequences and from the terraces of rivers has resulted in an increase in the knowledge about the global climate change in the Quaternary Period (Bridge, 2003; Dyhouse, Hatchett, & Benn, 2003, and Jones, J, 1996). Fluctuations during the Quaternary Period The Quaternary period has been characterized globally, and in Australia as well, by considerable climatic changes such as the stadial and interstadial oscillations of Marine Isotope Stage 3, the deglacial transition to Holocene interglacial climates and the Last Glacial Maximum (Turney et al. , 2006; Walker et al. , 1999).

Indeed, it has been discovered that one of the major features of the Quaternary is the drastically fluctuating wet-dry climate. From Oxygen Isotope Stage 6 onwards, there has been an overall reduction in the degree of the periods of wetness, periods which the eastern part of central Australia has continually reverted to.

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