Did aboriginal vegetation burning impact on the Australian summer monsoon?

by Michael Notaro, Karl Heinz Wyrwoll, Guangshan Chen
Geophysical Research Letters ()
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Abstract

Aboriginal vegetation burning practices and their role in the Australian\nenvironment remains a central theme of Australian environmental history.\nPrevious studies have identified a decline in the Australian summer\nmonsoon during the late Quaternary and attributed it to land surface-atmosphere\nfeedbacks, related to Aboriginal burning practices. Here we undertake\na comprehensive, ensemble model evaluation of the effects of a decrease\nin vegetation cover over the summer monsoon region of northern Australia.\nOur results show that the climate response, while relatively muted\nduring the full monsoon, was significant for the pre-monsoon season\n(austral spring), with decreases in precipitation, higher surface\nand ground temperatures, and enhanced atmospheric stability. These\nearly monsoon season changes can invoke far-reaching ecological impacts\nand set-up land surface-atmosphere feedbacks that further accentuate\natmospheric stability.

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