Dr Jonathan Palmer
Jonathan Palmer
Senior Research Associate
Field of Research: 
Dendrochronology, palaeoclimatology, geochronology, climate change processes
Contact details:
+61 2 9385 9043
Room 535, Level 5
Hilmer Building (E10)

UNSW, Kensington 2052

ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH) 

The Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre (MWAC)

See also https://research.unsw.edu.au/people/dr-jonathan-palmer

Research Interests

My primary research interest is dendrochronology and its applications. I have generally led the development of a significant number (>100 sites) of tree-ring chronologies from Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Myanmar and Pakistan. These chronologies have been the basis of fundamental work on past climate variability and forest ecology in Australasia and have provided critical data to more general synthesis papers such as the Monsoon Asian Drought Atlas (MADA) and global temperature variability over the past two millennia. The publication of the eastern Australian and New Zealand drought atlas (ANZDA) was the first hydroclimatic atlas for the Southern Hemisphere and marked the culmination of over 30 years of involvement and effort developing tree-ring sites from the regions and has exposed the urgent need for updates of some key sites as well as the potential for extending further back in time.

Another long-standing interest has been the development of the radiocarbon calibration curve (IntCal) which was recently recognised by being elected onto the IntCal calibration committee.  Key contributions have been made to interhemispheric comparisons and extension of the calibration curve.  For example, sequential samples from a New Zealand kauri chronology has helped define the duration of an extreme cold reversal period – the Younger Dryas, and this also identified some European dating errors.

Finally, I have a genuine interest in the open access to scientific data. This has included getting my research students to lodge their data as well as myself.  Overall, I have been involved with over 100 tree-ring sites being lodged with the International Tree Ring Data Bank (ITRDB; www.ncdc.noaa.gov) coming from countries extending from Pakistan to New Zealand. For over the last 15 years I have been an advisory board member to the ITRDB - the world's largest public archive of tree ring data, managed by NCEI's Paleoclimatology Team and the World Data System for Paleoclimatology. 

Current Projects 

a)    Australasian climate reconstructions based from tree-rings.  A wide range of related current projects extending from drought atlas developments, river-flow and multi-millennial temperature reconstructions.

b)    Radiocarbon calibration across the full temporal range for radiocarbon (i.e. back nearly 60,000 years) based primarily on New Zealand subfossil kauri (Agathis australis) and some samples of huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii) from Tasmania.

In the Media





Research Students


Philippa Higgins (PhD Scientia Scholarship candidate) – Improving our understanding of climate change-groundwater interactions in the Pacific

Nur Syahiza Zainuddin (PhD Scientia Scholarship candidate) – Climate change impacts on water resources for Indian Ocean island communities

Sanna Deano (MPhil) – Subfossil wood property degradation of New Zealand Agathis australis – implications for the timber industry

Priya Parsons O’Brien (Honours candidate) – Subfossil Tasmanian huon (Lagarostrobos franklinii) preservation patterns in alluvial channels.


Stephanie Blake (Honours, 2019) – Palaeoclimate potential of New Zealand Manoao colensoi (silver pine) tree rings using Blue-Intensity (BI). 


GEOS3761 Environmental Change (Guest Lecturer)


For Jonathan's full publication profile see: