My research focuses on how the Earth’s climate has behaved over the last millennium, and what that tells us about the climate changes we are seeing now. The past climate records that I develop come from corals, caves and ice cores, and I combine these with climate model data to study climate changes.
My research is supported by ARC-funded projects through the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, and through an ARC Future Fellowship. I'm actively involved in a number of the international reconstruction teams for the Past Global Changes 2k projects, and a Contributing Lead Author for the IPCC special report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.
Research group news
April 2019: Welcome to Sarah Jackson who has joined our group. Sarah will be doing a PhD studying isotope records from east Antarctic coastal ice cores.
August 2018: Farewell to Jen Wurtzel, who is leaving our group to take up an amazing job with the NSW Department of Primary Industry working on drought. Great to she the skills she developed during her PhD with us being put towards such an important application!
March 2018: We are excited to welcome Jess Hargreaves, who is starting her PhD research in our group. Jess will be looking the role of sea surface temperature in modulating the width of the tropical rainfall belt.
February 2018: Welcome to Nicky Wright who has joined our research group as a paleoclimate modeller. Nicky is a postdoctoral research fellow with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes and joins us from the University of Sydney.
November 2017 - February 2018: I will be working in Antarctica as part of the Mount Brown South ice core drilling project. We aim to collect a 350m ice core that will provide a high resolution record of past climate from the Indian Ocean sector of Antarctica spanning the last 1000 years.
November 2017: Congratulations to Jennifer Wurtzel on submitting her PhD thesis Reading the Rain in Rocks: A late deglacial-Holocene speleothem record from Sumatra, Indonesia.
October 2017: Work has begun on the preparation of the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. The final report is due to be delivered in September 2019, and I have been selected to work as a coordinating lead author for chapter 1.
January 2017: Thanks to Michael White for inviting me to be part of his Forecast program. The podcast of our chat about climate science is available online.
January 2017: Congratulations to graduate student Bethany Ellis who has been awarded the DA Brown travel fellowship. Bethany will use the fellowship to present her research on coral reconstructions of the Indian Ocean Dipole at the 2017 EGU meeting in Vienna and the PAGES Open Science Meeting in Spain.
November 2016: I'm thrilled to have been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship to study changes in Australia's rainfall belts over the last millennium. Through this funded project I am able to offer PhD student opportunities beginning mid to late 2017.
October 2016: All the best to graduate student Jen Wurtzel who is participating in the IODP 369 Western Pacific Warm Pool expedition over the next two months.
September 2016: It's official! A new Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes has been funded from July 2017 to 2023. The Centre brings together climate scientists from UNSW, Monash, ANU, Melbourne and Tasmania universities, as well as CSIRO and the BoM and numerous international partners. Stay tuned for postdoc opportunities to be advertised in early 2017.
August 2016: Our paper on the early onset of industrial-era warming is out in Nature. This is the culmination of many years of research, working with an amazing international team. Thanks to all of my co-authors for their efforts in bringing this huge piece of work together! To find out more you can check out this ANU video about the work.
July 2016: Congratulations to Dr Claire Krause who has graduated with a thesis titled Reconstructing the Indo-Australian Monsoon over the last glacial-interglacial cycle using speleothems and paleoclimate modeling. Claire has been accepted into the Graduate Program at Geoscience Australia. See us in our matching robes!
September 2015: I am very pleased to have joined the coordination team for the PAGES 2k Network. September and October are also jammed packed with scientific workshops for the various 2k regional working groups, so there is lots of important and exciting new science underway.
May 2015: Thank you to the Australian Academy of Science; I'm very honoured to have recieved the Dorothy Hill award. See the talk I gave at the award ceremony on Australia's changing climate from the perspective of the past millennium.
April 2015: I've recently accepted an invitation to become a co-chief editor for the open access journal Climate of the Past. After a number of years working as an editor for this journal I'm excited to step into this new role as part of the co-chief team.
March 2015: I'm looking forward to lots of exciting new science over the next 5 weeks with my collaborators at the British Antarctic Survey. Many thanks to the ARC for the International Collaboration Award that has made this research visit possible.
February 2015: The Ocean2k synthesis of tropical SST reconstructions over the past 400 years has been published in Paleoceanography, and is available as open access. The data compilations and reconstructions are also available for download here.
December 2014: Thank you to the Australian Academy of Science. I am very honoured to recieve the 2015 Dorothy Hill Award.
November 2014: The anthology of 2014 Best Australian Science Writing is now available. It is very exciting to have been included alongside so many great Australian science communicators in this book. Well worth a read!
May 2014: Our 1000-year reconstruction of the Southern Annular Mode has been published in Nature Climate Change. Thanks to the ANU media team for putting together this great video about the work and why it is important for understanding changing rainfall patterns in southern Australia.
December 2013/January 2014: I'm very excited to be heading to Antarctica as part of the Aurora Basin ice core drilling team. Learn more about the project in this video, and follow our progress via the Australian Antarctic Division.
Where I've studied and worked
- 2011-present: Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University
- 2004-2011: British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council (Cambridge, UK)
- 2000-2004: PhD, The Australian National University
- 1996-1999: BSc Advanced with honours and university medal, University of Sydney
Images are from coral drilling of Krakatau tsunami blocks in Sunda Strait, 2012
Many of these publications require an academic library subscription to read the full content. Please email me if you would like me to send you a pdf copy of any of these papers. You can also access my publication history through Google Scholar.
Funding acknowledgements give details for papers where the Australian Research Council supported the work through project costs and/or salary.
Freund, M.B., Henley, B.J., Karoly, D.J., McGregor, H.V., Abram, N.J., and Dommenget, D. (2019). Higher frequency of Central Pacific El Niño events in recent decades. Nature Geoscience. doi: 10.1038/s41561-019-0353-3. Funding support from FT160100029 and CE170100023.
- Associated article: Freund, M.B., Henley, B.J., Karoly, D.J., McGregor, H.V., and Abram, N.J., (2019). El Niño has rapidly become stronger and stranger, according to coral records. The Conversation
Datwyler, C., Abram, N.J., Grosjean, M., Wahl, E., Neukom, R. (2019). ENSO variability, teleconnection changes and response to large volcanic eruptions since AD 1000. International Journal of Climatology. doi: 10.1002/joc.5983. Funding support from FT160100029.
Dey, R., Lewis, S., and Abram, N.J. (2019). Investigating observed northwest Australian rainfall trends in CMIP5 detection and attribution experiments. International Journal of Climatology, 39 (1), 112-127, doi: 10.1002/joc.5788. Funding support from FT160100029 and CE110001028.
Dey, R., Lewis, S., Arblaster, J., and Abram, N.J. (2019). A Review of Past and Projected Changes in Australia’s Precipitation: Trends, Means and Extremes. WIRES Climate Change, https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.577. Funding support from FT160100029 and CE110001028.
Ellis, B., Grant, K., Mallela, J., Abram, N.J. (2019). Is XRF core scanning a viable method of coral palaeoclimate temperature reconstructions? Quaternary International. doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2018.11.044. Funding support from FT160100029, DP140102059, and CE110001028.
Krause, C.E., Gagan, M.K., Dunbar, G.B., Helstrom, J.C., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., Hantoro, W.S., Abram, N.J., and Rifai, H. (2019). Meridional and zonal drivers of Australasian monsoon hydroclimate over the last 40,000 years. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 513, 103-112, doi: 10.1016/j/epsl.2019.01.045. Funding support from DP110101161, FT160100029 and CE110001028.
Klein, F., Abram, N.J., Curran, M.A.J., Goosse, H., Goursaud, S., Masson-Delmotte, V., Moy, A., Neukom, R., Orsi, A., Sjolte, J., Steiger, N., Stenni, B., and Werner, M. (2019). Assessing the robustness of Antarctic temperature reconstructions over the past two millennia using pseudoproxy and data assimilation experiments. Climate of the Past. 15, 661-684, doi: 10.5194/cp-15-661-2019. Funding support from FT160100029 and CE170100023.
Turney, C.S.M, McGregor, H.V., Francus, P., Abram, N., Evans, M.N., Goosse, H., von Gunten, L., Kaufman, D., Linderholm, H., Loutre, M.F. and Neukom, R. (2019). Introduction to the Special Issue on Climate of the Past 2000 Years: Global and Regional Syntheses. Climate of the Past, 16, 611-615, doi: 10.5194/cp-15-611-2019
Abram, N.J. (2018). Past warming events in the Arctic linked to shifting winds in the Antarctic. Nature, 563, 630-631 (News and Views).
Fischer, H., Meissner, K., Mix, A., et al., including Abram N.J. (2018), Palaeoclimate constraints on the impact of 2 oC anthropogenic warming and beyond. Nature Geoscience. doi: 10.1038/s41561-018-0146-0. Funding support from FT160100029 and CE170100023.
Kaufman, D. and PAGES 2k special-issue editorial team, including Abram, N.J. (2018), Technical Note: Open-paleo-data implementation pilot – The PAGES 2k special issue, Climate of the Past, https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-14-593-2018. Funding support from FT160100029.
NEEM Aerosol Community, led by Fischer, H. and including Abram, N.J. (2018), Greenland records of aerosol source and atmospheric lifetime changes from the Eemian to the Holocene. Nature Communications, 9:1476, doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03924-3
Sigl, M., Abram, N. J., Gabrieli, J., Jenk, T. M., Osmont, D., and Schwikowski, M. (2018), 19th century glacier retreat in the Alps preceded the emergence of industrial black carbon deposition on high-alpine glaciers, The Cryosphere, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-3311-2018
Wurtzel, J.B., Abram, N.J., Lewis, S.E., Bajo, P., Helstrom, J.C., Troitzsch, U. and Heslop, D. (2018). Tropical Indo-Pacific hydroclimate response to North Atlantic forcing during the last deglaciation as recorded by a speleothem from Sumatra, Indonesia. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 492, 264-278, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2018.04.001Funding support from DP110101161 and DP140102059.
- Database archive: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/study/23790
Abram, N.J. (2017). FactCheck Q&A: Was it four degrees hotter 110,000 years ago? The Conversation.
Abram, N.J. (2017). FactCheck Q&A: Was it four degrees hotter 110,000 years ago? In: Watson, J. The Conversation Yearbook 2017: 50 articles that informed public debate. Melbourne University Press, ISBN: 9780522872668.
Dasse, E., and 37 others including Abram, N.J. (2017). Saving our marine archives. Eos, 98, https://doi.org/10.1029/2017EO068159.
Datwyler, C., Neukom, R., Abram, N.J., Gallant, A., Grosjean, M., Jacques-Coper, M., Karoly, D., and Villalba, R. (2017). Teleconnection stationarity, variability and trends of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) during the last millennium. Climate Dynamics, doi:10.1007/s00382-017-4015-0.
- Database archive: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/study/23130
Henley, B, and Abram, N.J. (2017). The three-minute story of 800,000 years of climate change with a sting in the tail. The Conversation (including YouTube video).
Hessl, A., Allen, K., Vance, T., Abram, N.J. and Saunders, K. (2017). Reconstructions of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) during the Last Millennium. Progress in Physical Geography. doi:10.1177/0309133317743165. Funding support from DP140102059.
PAGES 2k Consortium, led by Emile-Geay, J. and including Abram, N.J. (2017). A global multiproxy database for temperature reconstructions of the Common Era. Nature Scientific Data, doi: 10.1038/sdata.2017.88
- Database archive: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/study/21171
Stenni, B., Curran, M., Abram, N.J., Orsi, A., and 14 others from the Antarctica 2k working group (2017). Antarctic climate variability at regional and continental scales over the last 2,000 years, Climate of the Past, doi:10.5194/cp-13-1609-2017. Funding support from DP140102059 and CE110001028.
- Database archive: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/study/22589
Abram, N.J., McGregor, H.V., Tierney, J.E., Evans, M.N., McKay, N.P., Kaufman, D.S. and the PAGES 2k Consortium (2016). Early onset of industrial-era warming across the oceans and continents. Nature, 536, 411-418, doi:10.1038/nature19082. Funding support from DP110101161 and DP140102059.
- Associated article: McGregor, H.V., Abram, N.J., Gergis, J. and Phipps, S. (2016). The Industrial Revolution kick-started global warming much earlier than we realised. The Conversation
- Press Release and Video
- Database and code archive: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/study/20083
Jones, J.M., Gille, S.T., Goosse, H., Abram, N.J., and 21 other co-authors (2016). Assessing recent trends in high-latitude Southern Hemisphere surface climate. Nature Climate Change, 6, 917-926, doi:10.1038/nclimate3103. Funding support from DP110101161 and DP140102059.
- Associated article: Abram, N.J., England, M.E., and Vance, T.R. (2016). Record high to record low: what on earth is happening to Antarctica's sea ice? The Conversation
Abram, N.J. (2016). Climate's Playground. Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo2856.
Abram, N.J. (2016). Climate shenanigans at the ends of the Earth: why has sea ice gone haywire? The Conversation.
Hobbs, W., Curran, M.A.J., Abram, N.J. and Thomas, E.R. (2016). Century-scale perspectives on observed and simulated Southern Ocean sea ice trends. Journal of Geophysical Research, 121, 7804-7818, doi: 10.1002/2016JC012111. Funding support from DP110101161.
Thomas, E.R. and Abram, N.J. (2016). Ice core reconstruction of sea ice change in the Amundsen-Ross Seas since 1702AD. Geophysical Research Letters, 43, 5309-5317, doi: 10.1002/2016GL068130. Funding support from DP110101161.
Vance, T., Roberts, J., Moy, A., Curran, M., Tozer, C., Gallant, A., Abram, N.J., van Ommen, T., Young, D., Blankenship, D., Siegert, M., and Grima, C. (2016). Optimal site selection for a high resolution ice core record in East Antarctica. Climate of the Past, 12, 595-610, doi:10.5194/cp-12-595-2016. Funding support from DP110101161 and DP140102059.
Tierney, J.E., Abram, N.J., Anchukaitis, K.J., Evans, M.N., Giry, C., Kilbourne, K.H., Saenger, C.P., Wu, H.C., Zinke, J. (2015). Tropical sea-surface temperatures for the past four centuries reconstructed from coral archives. Paleoceanography, 30, 226-252, doi: 10.1002/2014PA002717. Funding support from DP110101161 and DP140102059.
- Database archive: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/study/17955
Abram, N.J., Dixon, B.C., Rosevear, M.G., Plunkett, B., Gagan, M.K., Hantoro, W.S. and Phipps, S.J. (2015). Optimised coral records of the Indian Ocean Dipole: an assessment of location and length considerations. Paleoceanography, 30, 1391-1405, doi: 10.1002/2015PA002810. Funding support from DP110101161 and DP140102059.
- Data archive: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/study/18895
King, P.L., Edwards, A., and Abram, N.J. (2015) Recognising biases that affect women geoscientists in the workplace. Elements Magazine, 11 (April), 88-89.
Abram, N.J. (2014). Antarctic ice: going, going, ... In: The Best Australian Science Writing 2014 (ed. A. Hay).
Murphy, E.J., Clarke, A., Abram, N.J. and Turner, J. (2014). Variability of sea-ice in the northern Weddell Sea during the 20th century. Journal of Geophysical Research. doi:10.1002/2013JC009511. Funding support from DP110101161.
Abram, N.J., Mulvaney, R., Vimeux, F., Phipps, S.J. Turner, J. and England, M.E. (2014). Evolution of the Southern Annular Mode during the past millennium. Nature Climate Change, 4, 564-569. doi:10.1038/nclimate2235. Funding support from DP140102059 and DP110101161.
Abram, N.J. (2013). Antarctic ice...going, going,gone? In: The Curious Country (ed. L. Dayton). pp. 14-19. From the Office of the Chief Scientist and available as a free e-book through ANU Press
Abram, N.J., Mulvaney, R., Wolff, E.W., Triest, J., Kipfstuhl, S., Trusel, L.D., Vimeux, F., Fleet, L. and Arrowsmith, C. (2013). Acceleration of snow melt in an Antarctic Peninsula ice core during the twentieth century. Nature Geoscience, 6, 404-411, doi:10.1038/ngeo1787. Funding support from DP110101161.
- Data archive: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/study/14201
Abram, N.J., Wolff, E.W. and Curran, M.A.J (2013). A review of sea ice proxy information from polar ice cores.Quaternary Science Reviews, doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.01.011. Funding support from DP110101161.
Mulvaney R.*, Abram, N.J.*, Hindmarsh, R.C.A., Arrowsmith C., Fleet L., Triest J., Sime, L.C., Alemany O. and Foord, S. Recent Antarctic Peninsula warming relative to Holocene climate and ice shelf history (2012),Nature, 489, 141-144, doi:10.1038/nature11391. *equal contributions. Funding support from DP110101161.
- Data archive: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/study/13954
Wheatley, J.J., Blackwell, P.G., Abram, N.J., McConnell, J.R., Thomas, E.R. and Wolff, E.W. (2012). Automated ice-core layer-counting with strong univariate signals. Climate of the Past 8, 1869-1879, doi:10.5194/cp-8-1869-2012
Abram, N.J., Mulvaney, R. and Arrowsmith, C (2011). Environmental signals in a highly resolved ice core from James Ross Island, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research. 116, D20116, doi:10.1029/2011JD016147
D’Arrigo R., Abram N.J., Ummenhoffer C., Palmer J. and Mudelsee M. (2011). Reconstructed streamflow for Citarum River, Java, Indonesia: linkages to tropical climate dynamics. Climate Dynamics 36, 451-462, doi:10.1007/s00382-009-0717-2.
Gagan, M.K. and Abram, N.J. (2011). Stable isotopes and trace elements. In Hopley, D. (ed) Encyclopedia of modern coral reefs: structure, form and process. Encyclopedia of Earth Science Series, Springer-Verlag.
Abram, N.J., Thomas, E.R, McConnell, J.R., Mulvaney, R., Bracegirdle, T.J., Sime, L.C., and Aristarain, A.J. (2010). Ice core evidence for a 20th century decline of sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research 115, D23101, doi:10.1029/2010JD014644.
Rothlisberger R., Crosta X., Abram N.J., Armand L. and Wolff E.W. (2010). Potential and limitations of marine and ice core proxies: An example from the Indian Ocean sector. Quaternary Science Reviews 29, 296-302, doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2009.10.005.
Abram N.J., McGregor H.V., Gagan M.K. Hantoro W.S. and Suwargadi B.W. (2009). Oscillations in the southern extent of the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool during the mid-Holocene. Quaternary Science Reviews 28, 2794-2803, doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2009.07.006. Funding support from DP0663227.
- Data archive: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/study/9819
Ault T.R., Cole J.E., Evans M.N., Barnett H., Abram N.J., Tudhope A.W. and Linsley B.K. (2009). Intensified decadal variability in tropical climate during the late 19th century, Geophysical Research Letters 36, L08602, doi:10.1029/2008GL036924.
Hodgson, D.A., Abram, N.J., Anderson, J., Bargelloni L., Barrett P., Bentley M.J., Bertler N.A.N., Chown S., Clarke A., Convey P., Crame A., Crosta X., Curran M., di Prisco G., Francis J.E., Goodwin I., Gutt J., Masse G., Masson-Delmotte V., Mayewski P.A., Mulvaney R., Peck L., Portner H.-O., Rothlisberger R., Stevens M.I., Summerhayes C.P., van Ommen T., Verde C., Verleyen E., Vyverman W., Wiencke C. and Zane L. (2009)Antarctic climate and environmental history in the pre-instrumental period. In: Turner, J. Convey P., di Prisco G., Mayewski P.A., Hodgson D.A., Fahrbach E, Bindschadler R. and Gutt J. (eds) Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment. Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research, Cambridge.
Abram N.J., Gagan M.K., Cole J.E., Hantoro W.S., and Mudelsee M. (2008). Recent intensification of tropical climate variability in the Indian Ocean, Nature Geoscience 1 (12), 849-853, doi:10.1038/ngeo357. Funding support from DP0342017 and DP0663227.
- Data archive: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/study/8607
McGregor H.V. and Abram N.J. (2008). Images of diagenetic textures in Porites corals from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems 9 (10), Q10013, doi:10.1029/2008GC002093.
Reda T., Plugge C.M., Abram N.J. and Hirst J. (2008). Reversible interconversion of carbon dioxide and formate by an electroactive enzyme. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (31), 10654-10658, doi:10.1073/pnas.0801290105.
Abram N.J., Curran M.A.J., Mulvaney R. and Vance T. (2008). The preservation of methanesulphonic acid in frozen ice-core samples. Journal of Glaciology 54 (187), 680-684.
Abram N.J., Mulvaney R. Wolff E.W. and Mudelsee M. (2007). Ice core records as sea ice proxies: An evaluation from the Weddell Sea region of Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research 112, D15101, doi:10.1029/2006JD008139.
Abram N.J., Gagan M.K., Liu, Z., Hantoro W.S., McCulloch M.T. and Suwargadi B.W. (2007). Seasonal characteristics of the Indian Ocean Dipole during the Holocene epoch, Nature 445, 299-302, doi:10.1038/nature05477. Funding support from DP0342017 and DP0663227.
Abram N.J., Gagan M.K., Mcculloch M.T., Chappell J., and Hantoro W.S. (2004) Sudden death of a coral reef. Science 303, 1293-1294, doi:10.1126/science.303.5662.1293b
Grumet N.S., Abram N.J., Beck J.W., Dunbar R.B., Gagan M.K. Guilderson T.P., Hantoro W.S. and Suwargadi B.W. (2004). Coral radiocarbon records of Indian Ocean water mass mixing and wind-induced upwelling along the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, Journal of Geophysical Research 109, C05003, doi:10.1029/2003JC002087
Abram N.J., Gagan M.K., McCulloch M.T., Chappell J. and Hantoro W.S. (2003). Coral reef death during the 1997 Indian Ocean Dipole linked to Indonesian wildfires, Science 301, 952-955, doi:10.1126/science.1083841. Funding support from DP0342017.
Abram N.J., Webster J.M., Davies P.J. and Dullo W-C. (2001). Biological response of coral reefs to sea surface temperature variation: Evidence from the raised Holocene reefs at Kikai-jima (Ryukyu Islands, Japan),Coral Reefs, 20, 221-234, doi:10.1007/s003380100163
Image from ice core drilling on James Ross Island, Antarctica, 2008
- I teach the third year Palaeoclimatology and Climate Change course at ANU (EMSC3027), focusing on climate variability and changes over the past 2000 years and their relevance for Australia.
- I am also able to offer research supervision for undergraduate students wishing to complete third year Special Topics (EMSC3050) or Honours year (EMSC4005) research projects.