Project 1609P: Palaeolakes of the Arid Southern Hemisphere (PotASH)

As potential archives of Quaternary environmental and climatic change, dry lake basins are extremely important repositories of palaeohydrological/palaeoclimate information in desert regions where organic records are often lacking. By dint of the distribution of landmasses and their interaction with present day circulation systems, dry lakes are particularly prevalent in the arid zones and desert margins of the Southern Hemisphere across Australia, southern Africa, and South America. Dry lake basins however also represent especially challenging environments from which to obtain palaeodata, requiring a variety of research approaches and disciplines. Investigations however, are often influenced/limited by existing regional collaborations and expertise. This project aims to build a long-term pan-hemisphere network that will build collaboration between palaeodata scientists and modellers, bringing together a diversity of approaches and methods to dryland palaeolake investigations. The project will also strive to build strong links with scientists working on contemporary southern hemisphere playa processes to strengthen existing and future palaeodata interpretations. Members will build a database of southern hemisphere palaeolake records. The structure of the database will be determined during the course of the project but metadata will include chronological resolution, assessment on the level of agreement between multiple proxies (where available), and lake status (relative to present day), with the potential to significantly update the Oxford Lake Level database held by NOAA (Street-Perrott et al., 1989). The data will be mined for evidence of perturbations, transitions and abrupt events and an assessment will be made as to whether these signals are localized, regional, or global responses. The project will also seek to compare model outputs (e.g. Palaeoclimate Model Intercomparison Project 3 simulations; PMIP3) and the synthesised palaeodataset across the southern hemisphere, in order to identify viable hypotheses for the mechanisms driving hemispheric change in the southern hemisphere drylands.

For further information please contact Sallie Burrough ( or Joy Singarayer (