Thermometer-based climate records started in 1850, so scientists have gone “back to nature” for sources of long-term climatic information to help them better understand climate change and rising sea levels.
Smoke-belching coal-fired power stations and factories and fossil fuel-guzzling motor vehicles may be seen as the big villains of the global climate change debate, but they aren’t the only ones contributing to the greenhouse effect.
Australia’s hundreds of millions of cattle, sheep, pigs and other agricultural animals – not to mention our native fauna – also release significant amounts of methane and other gases into the atmosphere.
When Australian and Indonesian scientists revealed their “Hobbit” discovery in 2004, it created a sensation. Homo floresiensis was a previously undiscovered branch of the human family tree, raising images of a lost world of “little people” living on a remote island in eastern Indonesia.
What really excited scientists about the discovery of the one-metre tall adult skeleton in a cave on Flores was the realisation this species had co-existed with Homo sapiens until just 12,000 years ago.
In Australia we call them bushfires. In other parts of the world they are called forest fires, and global climate change and increasing human populations mean they are increasing in frequency and ferocity.
Dr Zenobia Jacobs wants to know where we came from, and how we got here. When did our distant ancestors leave Africa and spread across the world? Why? And when was Australia first settled?