There is an interesting abstract presented at the 2011 AGU Conference in San Francisco by Franco Biondi
The title and abstract are [highlight added]
ABSTRACT FINAL ID: H42G-08;
TITLE: Tree-Ring Extension of Precipitation Variability for Eastern Nevada: Implications for
Drought Analysis in the Great Basin Region, USA
SESSION TYPE: Oral
SESSION TITLE: H42G. The Past, Present, and Future of Global and Regional Droughts I
AUTHORS (FIRST NAME, LAST NAME): Franco Biondi1, Scotty D Strachan1
INSTITUTIONS (ALL): 1. DendroLab, University of Nevada, Reno, NV, United States.
ABSTRACT BODY: In the Great Basin of North America, ecotonal environments characterized as lower forest border sites are ideally suited for tree-ring reconstructions of hydroclimatic variability. A network of 22 tree-ring chronologies, some longer than 800 years, from single-leaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla) tree-ring samples for eastern Nevada, in the central Great Basin of North America was used to analyze long-term precipitation variability. The period in common among all tree-ring chronologies, i.e. 1650-1976, was used to reconstruct October-May total precipitation using the Line of Organic Correlation (LOC) method. Individual site reconstructions were then combined using spatio-temporal kriging to produce annual maps of drought on a 12×12 km grid. Hydro-climatic episodes were numerically identified and modeled using their duration, magnitude, and peak, to estimate the likelihood of severe and sustained drought in this region. According to a numerical scoring rule explained in detail by Biondi et al. 2008, the most remarkable episode in the entire reconstruction was the early 1900s pluvial, followed by the late 1800s drought. The 1930s ‘Dust Bowl’ drought was in 8th position, making it one of the more remarkable episodes in the past few centuries. This result is consistent with other studies that show how regional drought severity varies going from western to eastern Nevada, and directly addresses the needs of water managers with respect to planning for ‘worst case’ scenarios of drought duration and magnitude. For instance, it is possible to analyze which geographical areas and hydrographic basins are more likely to be impacted during the most extreme droughts, at the annual (see Figure) or multiannual timescale. In the semi-arid western USA, multi-century long dendroclimatic records with km-scale spatial resolution can therefore provide water managers with a quantitative evaluation of climate episodes well beyond the envelope of instrumental records, thereby increasing the ability to design management practices for single watersheds with the objective to achieve drought resiliency.
The publications of this outstanding research group can be viewed here.
One implication from their study is that we can use this paleo- and recent historical data to estimate what would be the consequences if these past climatic events reoccurred but with today’s society and environment? This type of analysis fits with our bottom-up, resource-based [contextual] vulnerability perspective that we have proposed in our paper
Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2011: Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences, in press.