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Krystyna Saunders

Dr Krystyna Saunders
Krystyna Saunders
Research Scientist

Role at ANSTO 

Krystyna is a research scientist in the Environmental Change Program (Environment Theme). She specialises in reconstructing past climates and ecosystems from sedimentary lake records and works on a number of projects based on locations throughout the Southern Hemisphere, including sub-Antarctic islands, Tasmania, Chile and New Zealand. 

She  applies a variety of biological and geochemical techniques together with radiochemistry to develop climate and ecosystem records over the last ca. 12,000 years. These provide key insights into the natural variability of the study areas and, in most cases, show clear and unequivocal signals of human impacts over the last ca. 150 years. 

Topics include:

  • Past Southern Hemisphere westerly wind variability
  • High-resolution precipitation and temperature reconstructions using scanning techniques applied to lake sediments in Tasmania
  • Application of palaeoecological techniques in estuarine studies
  • Diatom surveys of sub-Antarctic Macquarie and Campbell Island lakes and ponds, and Tasmanian and southeast mainland Australian coastal waterbodies
  • Impacts of feral animals on sub-Antarctic lakes and their catchments
  • Impacts of mining on Tasmanian lakes and estuaries


Diatom classifications, physiochemical proxies for lakes, high-resolution climate reconstructions, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology

Qualifications & Achievements 

  • ANSTO-University of Wollongong Joint Collaborative Seed Project Grant: Sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island as a key site for reconstructing atmospheric processes (2018-2019)
  • Australian Antarctic Science Grant: High resolution reconstructions of climate and ecosystem variability in the sub-Antarctic during the last two millennia (2012-2019)
  • Swiss National Science Foundation Ambizione Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Bern, Switzerland: ‘High-resolution reconstructions of climate variability in the sub-Antarctic during the last two millennia’ (2012-2015)
  • Australian Antarctic Science Grant: Quantifying the effects of long term environmental change on World Heritage Macquarie Island (2009-2012)
  • Marie-Curie International Incoming Fellow, Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland: ‘High-resolution quantitative climate reconstructions for understanding current trends: the past 2000 years of Tasmanian climate variability‘ (2009-2011)

Committees, Affiliations & memberships

  • Adjunct Researcher, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia

Professional networks

  • Australasian Quaternary Association
  • Integrated Science for the sub-Antarctic working group
  • International Union for Quaternary Research International Focus Group: ‘Southern Hemisphere Assessment of Palaeo-Environments’ (SHAPE)
  • International Union for Quaternary Research Project: ‘Southern Hemisphere Last Glacial Maximum’
  • Past Global Changes 2K network: Data contributor to Emile-Geay J, McKay NP, Kaufman DS, Von Gunten L et al. (2017) A global multiproxy database for temperature reconstructions of the Common Era. Scientific Data 4: 170088
  • Past Global Changes working group: ‘Climate variability in Antarctic and the Southern Hemisphere in the last 2000 years’ (CLIVASH2K)
  • Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists


  • Bachelor of Science, majoring in Geography, University of Tasmania, Australia (1998-2001)
  • Honours (1st class), Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia (2002)
  • PhD at the Institute for Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia: ‘Palaeoecology as a management tool for Australian ecosystems’ (2005-2008)