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Climatic Regionalization and the Spatio-Temporal Occurrence of Extreme Single-Year Drought Events (1500–1998) in the Interior Pacific Northwest, USA

  • Paul A. Knapp (a1), Henri D. Grissino-Mayer (a2) and Peter T. Soulé (a3)
Abstract
Abstract

Tree-ring records from western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis var. occidentalis Hook.) growing throughout the interior Pacific Northwest identify extreme climatic pointer years (CPYs) (i.e., severe single-year droughts) from 1500–1998. Widespread and extreme CPYs were concentrated in the 16th and early part of the 17th centuries and did not occur again until the early 20th century. The 217-yr absence of extreme CPYs may have occurred during an extended period of low variance in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. We mapped climatic boundaries for the interior Pacific Northwest based on the location of sites with similar precipitation variability indices. Three regions, the Northwest (based on chronologies from nine sites), the Southwest (four sites), and the East (five sites) were identified. Our results suggest that western juniper radial growth indices have substantial interannual variability within the northwestern range of the species (central Oregon), particularly when compared with western juniper growing in its eastern range (eastern Oregon, southeastern Idaho, and northern Nevada) and southwestern range (southern Oregon and northeast California). We suspect that the substantial differences in the variability of western juniper radial growth indices are linked to the influence of ENSO events on winter/spring precipitation amounts.

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1To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: gegpak@langate.gsu.edu.
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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
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