Dr Dan Penny, PhD
Senior Lecturer - Marine and Environmental Geosciences
Madsen Building (F09), Rm 433
Phone: +61 2 9351 6464
Fax: +61 2 9351 3644
Dan is an Environmental Geoscientist with an interest in environmental change and its impact on society, and on the Earth System. Major research interests include the history of large-scale environmental processes in the Australasian region (monsoon, ENSO), and the impact of these processes on the terrestrial and near-shore/coastal ecosystems. Dan is currently producing high-resolution records of abrupt climate events in northeastern Cambodia and off the coast of Vietnam, and considering the interaction between social and natural resilience to climate change.
Current Major Research Projects
Cambodian Crater Lakes Project
Chief Investigator; with Dr Brendan Buckley (Columbia University, USA); Dr Quan Hua (ANSTO, Australia), Dr Andy Maxwell (Independent Scholar, USA); Ministry of Environment (Cambodia). Funded by the Australian Research Council 2010-2013.
The response of tropical ecosystems to abrupt, decadal-scale climatic change is poorly understood. Yet the resilience or sensitivity of tropical ecosystems to climate change is a matter of consequence for the conservation of those ecosystems, for the millions of people that rely on the services they provide, and for the international community. Indeed, the effect of predicted climatic change on livelihoods and regional stability in the developing world has become a first-order strategic and security concern, and is of immediate strategic and economic interest to Australia. This project will provide a record of ecological response to abrupt change in the Asian summer monsoon that is of comparable resolution to regional and hemispheric climate dataseries. This research is significant in coupling high-resolution climatic and ecological records in one the Earth’s regions most exposed to the impact of predicated climatic change.
Paleoclimate Shocks: Environmental Variability, Human Vulnerability, and Societal Adaptation During the Last Millennium in the Greater Mekong Basin
Senior Researcher: with (Principal Investigator: Columbia University, USA); Tanya Heikkila (Columbia University, USA); Kevin Anchukaitis (Columbia University, USA); Ed Cook (Columbia University, USA); Upmanu Lall (Columbia University, USA); Marc Levy (Columbia University, USA); Ben Cook (NASA); Aroonrut Wichienkeeo (Chiangmai Rajabhat University, Thailand); Roland Fletcher (The University of Sydney, Australia), Li Feng (Columbia University, USA). Funded by the National Science Foundation 2009-2013.
We seek to develop quantitative, probabilistic models of the interaction between societies and hydroclimate variability over the last millennium based on data from mainland Southeast Asia and the Greater Mekong Basin. Bringing together long, annually resolved drought-sensitive paleoclimate proxies and a rich historical/archaeological record allows a quantitative comparison of the diversity and efficacy of societal responses to climatic change. We seek to identify the full range of possible interactions arising from hydroclimatic variability, including trade, resource management, technology, engineering strategies, acquisition, conflict, and demographic shifts, amongst others.
Greater Angkor Project
Co-Director; with (Chief Investigator, The University of Sydney); Jeff Riegel (The University of Sydney); Li Baoping (The University of Sydney); Christophe Pottier (EFEO); Miriam Stark (University of Hawaii, USA); John Miksic (National University of Singapore); Ang Choulean (Royal University of Fine Arts, Cambodia). Funded by the Australian Research Council 2002-2014.
The Greater Angkor Project, a multi-disciplinary international research group co-ordinated by University of Sydney Department of Archaeology in collaboration with the APSARA Authority (Cambodia). More information on the Greater Angkor Project is available online.
Since 2001 Dan has been investigating the demise of Angkor, Cambodia, using micro-palaeontological techniques (pollen and spores from higher plants and ferns respectively, and algae, particularly diatoms). Angkor was capital to a sprawling medieval empire that encompassed much of the Indochinese peninsula between the 9th and sometime after the 15th C AD. His research seeks to explore the timing of and reasons for Angkor's decline and eventual collapse.
- Penny, D. (2010) The Mekong River system and the end of the Angkor civilization; a water historical perspective. In T. Tvedt, R. Coopey (Eds.) Rivers and Society: From Early Civilisations to Modern Times. A History of Water, Series II Volume II. I.B. Taurus, London, New York: 129-143.
- Buckley, B.M., Anchukaitis, K.J., Penny, D., Fletcher, R., Cook, E.R., Sano, M., Nam, L.C., Wichienkeeo, A, Minh, T.T., Hong, T.M. (2010) Medieval climate extremes and the demise of Angkor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107(15): 6748-6752
- Penny, D. (in press) China and Southeast Asia. In Metcalfe, S. E., Nash, D. J., (eds) Quaternary Environmental Change in the Tropics. Blackwell Publishing. Oxford. Accepted Sept 08.
- Lustig, T., Fletcher, R., Kummu, M., Pottier, C., Penny, D. (2008) Did traditional cultures live in harmony with nature? Lessons from Angkor, Cambodia. In: M. Kummu, M. Keskinen and O. Varis (Eds.), Modern Myths of the Mekong - A Critical Review of Water and Development Concepts, Principles and Policies. Water & Development Publications - Helsinki University of Technology. Finland: 81-94.
- Fletcher, R., Penny, D., Evans, D., Pottier, C., Barbetti, M., Kummu, M., Lustig, T., Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap(APSARA) Department of Monuments and Archaeology Team (2008) The water management network of Angkor, Cambodia. Antiquity 82: 658-670.
- Penny, D. (2008) The Mekong at climatic crossroads: lessons from the geological past. Ambio. 37(3): 164-169
- Kummu, M., Penny, D. Sarkkula, J., Koponen, J. (2008) Sediment – curse or blessing for Tonle Sap lake? Ambio. 37(3): 158-163.
- Penny, D., Pottier, C., Kummu, M., Fletcher, R., Zoppi, U., Barbetti, M., Tous. S. (2007) Hydrological history of the West Baray, Angkor, revealed through palynological analysis of sediments from the West Mebon. Bulletin de l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient 92: 497-521.
- Penny, D., Hua, Q., Pottier, C., Fletcher, R., Barbetti, M. (2007). The use of AMS 14C dating to explore issues of occupation and demise at the medieval city of Angkor, Cambodia. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B 259: 338-394.
- Sanderson, D., Bingham, R., Alexander, S., Bishop, P., Stark, M., Penny, D. (2007) Luminescence dating of sediments and ceramics from Angkor Borei, Mekong Delta, Southern Cambodia. Quaternary Geochronology 2(1-4): 322-329
- Luly, J.G, Grindrod, J.F., Penny, D. (2006) Holocene palaeoenvironments and change at Three-Quarter Mile Lake, Silver Plains Station, Cape York Peninsula, Australia. The Holocene 16(8): 1085-1094.
- Fletcher, R., Penny, D., Barbetti, M., Pottier, C., Heng, T., Khieu, C., Tous, S. (2006) The Greater Angkor Project 2005-2009: Issues and Program. In Bacus, E.A., Glover, I.C., Pigott, V.C. (eds) Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past: selected papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists. NUS Press, Singapore: 347-354.
- Carter, E.A., Privat, K.L., Penny, D. (2006) Vibrational Spectroscopy for materials analysis. Materials Australia 39(5): 22-25
- Penny, D., Pottier, C., Fletcher, R.J., Barbetti, M.F., Fink, D., Hua, Q. (2006) Vegetation and land-use at Angkor, Cambodia: a dated pollen sequence from the Bakong temple moat. Antiquity 80 (309): 599-614
- Penny, D. (2006) The Holocene history and development of the Tonle Sap, Cambodia. Quaternary Science Reviews 25: 310-322.
- Penny, D., Cook, G. & Im, S.S. (2005) Long-term rates of sediment accumulation in the Tonle Sap lake, Cambodia: a threat to ecosystem health? Journal of Paleolimnology 33(1): 95-103.
- Penny, D. & Kealhofer, L. (2005) Microfossil evidence of land-use intensification in north Thailand. Journal of Archaeological Science 32:69-82.
- White, J.C., Penny, D., Maloney, B. & Kealhofer, L. (2004). Vegetation changes from the Terminal Pleistocene through the Holocene from three areas of archaeological significance in Thailand. Quaternary International 113: 111-132.
- Fletcher, R.J., Barbetti, M., Evans, D., Than, H., Sorithy, I., Chan, K., Penny, D., Pottier, C. & Somaneath, T. (2003) Redefining Angkor: structure and environment in the largest, low density urban complex of the pre-industrial world. Udaya, 4: 107-121.
- Bishop, P, Penny, D., Stark, M. and Scott, M. (2003) A 3.5ka record of paleoenvironments and human occupation at Angkor Borei, Mekong delta, southern Cambodia. Geoarchaeology 18(3): 359-393.
- Kershaw, A.P., David, B., Tapper, N.J., Penny, D. and Brown, J. (eds.) (2002) Bridging Wallace's Line: The Environmental and Cultural History and Dynamics of the Southeast Asian - Australian Region. Advances in Geoecology 34. Catena Verlag., Reiskirchen, Germany, 360 pp.
- Kershaw, A.P, Penny, D., van der Kaars, S., Anshuri, G. and Thamotherampillai, A. (2001) Palaeoecological evidence for vegetation and climate in lowland Southeast Asia at the Last Glacial Maximum. In Metcalf, I., Smith, J.M.B., Morwood, M., Davidson, I. and Hewison, K. (Eds.) Faunal and floral migrations and evolution in Southeast Asia - Australasia. A.A. Balkema. 227-236.
- Penny, D. (2001) A 40,000 year palynological record from north-east Thailand; implications for biogeography and palaeo-environmental reconstruction. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 171: 97-128.
- van der Kaars, S,. Penny, D., Fluin, J., Tibby, J. & Dam, R. (2001) A Late Quaternary palaeoecological record from Rawa Danau, West Java, Indonesia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 171; 185-212.
- Penny, D. (1999) Pollen grains in the sands of time; lake sediments contribute to the archaeology of Thailand. Expedition, Volume 14(3); 32-36.
- Penny, D. (1999) Palaeoenvironmental analysis of the Sakon Nakhon basin, north-east Thailand; palynological perspectives on climate change and human occupation. Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association, 18, Vol. 2: 139-149.
- Kealhofer, L. & Penny, D. (1998) 14,000 years of vegetation change in Northeast Thailand. Review of Palaeobotany & Palynology Vol. 103; 83-93.
- Penny, D., Grindrod, J., & Bishop, P. (1996) Holocene palaeoenvironmental reconstruction based on microfossil analysis of a lake sediment core, Nong Han Kumphawapi, Udon Thani, Northeast Thailand. Asian Perspectives, Vol. 35, No.2; 209-228.
- Reid, M., Tibby, J., Penny, D., & Gell, P. (1995) The use of diatoms to assess past and present water quality. Australian Journal of Ecology. 20; 57-64.