Articles | Volume 16, issue 1
31 Dec 1965
 | 31 Dec 1965

Paläoklimatologische Eindrücke aus Neuseeland

Martin Schwarzbach

Abstract. Some observations and remarks about the climate and paleoclimate of New Zealand, founded on journeys and the work of New Zealandic geologists. Some peculiarities of the climate (fig. 1). New Zealand has a relatively cool and wet climate (similar to Tasmania at the present). There is a very conspicious difference between the very humid windward side and the arid lee-side of the Southern Alps (also in the vegetation, fig. 2). „Edaphically caused deserts" begin to develop in the volcanic area of the North Island (fig. 3). The glaciers on the western coast of New Zealand (fig. 4), especially Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, are impressive examples for the coexistence of lush, nearly subtropical rainforests (with tree-ferns) with glacier ice (figs. 6, 8). Therefore they are especially important for paleoclimatologists and for the interpretation of climatic indicators. Both glaciers have their tongues near the sea, nearly 2000 mts. below snow-line. Their recession (fig. 7) was 1200 and 1800 m respectively in 21 years. The cause for the low position of the tongues is to bee seen in high precipitation in connexion with the altitude and steepness of the mountains.

Climatic history of New Zealand. The Quaternary is not treated; it only is referred to the influence of recent tectonic movements on the terraces. — The climate of the Tertiary was temperate to subtropical and humid. Maximal temperatures did not occur (as in Europe and North America) in the older, but (as in Australia) in the middle Tertiary (fig. 9). The author tries to explain this difference by the combination of 2 curves (fig. 10): one is the curve of changing latitude, caused by drift, the other is the general trend of the decline of temperature in Tertiary time. Because Australia obviously moved towards the equator, but Europe (if at all) towards the pole, the resulting curve is different in both continents. — Also the Mesozoic climate was neither tropical nor arid. Perhaps the Permian was a little warmer than in Australia. Compared with Australia, the climatic history is distinctly different. Australia changed from a polar climate to a subtropical and tropical one since the Carboniferous-Permian period, but New Zealand seems to have remained more or less in the same climatic zone during this long time. We don't yet know whether the difference between New Zealand and Australia is only apparent (caused by gaps in our knowledge), or is caused by an independent northward drift of both regions (Australia quickly, New Zealand more slowly).