Environment Getting ahead of the carbon dating curve

Getting ahead of the carbon dating curve

Australian researchers have gone back to the future — helping to make dating past events more accurate so our future can be better predicted.

Radiocarbon dating is the most frequently used approach for showing the age of objects and events over the last 55,000 years.

It has revolutionised the fields of archaeology and environmental science, but new technologies can now be used to make it even better.

Now, researchers at UNSW Sydney, lead by Professor Chris Turney, collaborated with international colleagues to measure 15,000 samples from objects dating back as far as 55,000 years ago.

The research was part of a seven-year project to create new radiocarbon calibration curves.

Professor Turney says dating the past is essential for improving our understanding of how Earth evolved and how climatic variations impact its inhabitants.

“We know the world faces many terrible environmental crises, but there still remains uncertainty surrounding the scale and timing of future impacts,” he said.

Professor Turney says analysing past events and processes can help us model our future.

“By dating climate records preserved in lakes, peats and the oceans in lower latitudes, we can determine if any one region of the world warms earlier or faster than another, providing insights into the future.”

Help Australia’s scientists stay ahead of the curve – sign the petition to #KeepItClever now.