A paleo perspective on hydroclimatic variability in the western United States

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aquatic resources management has become increasingly challenging as human demands on water supplies compete with the needs of natural ecosystems, particularly in arid lands. A wide range of factors, both natural and human, influence aquatic environments, but an important underlying component is climate variability. Instrumental records of hydroclimatic variability from precipitation, streamflow, and snowpack are limited to 100 years or less in most areas of the western U.S., and are too short to provide more than a subset of the full range of natural climate variability. Paleoclimatic proxy data from a variety of sources can be used to extend instrumental records of climate back centuries to tens of thousands of years and longer. In this review, four drought events over the past three millennia, each documented with a number of proxy records, illustrate natural hydroclimatic variability characteristics over the western U.S. Although a small sample of paleoclimate data, these four events exemplify the wide range of natural hydroclimatic variability over space and time. Climate is now, and will continue to be, impacted by human activities, but natural climatic variability will likely be an important underlying factor in future climate variability and change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-356
Number of pages11
JournalAquatic Sciences
Volume66
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Western United States
climate
snowpack
paleoclimate
aquatic environment
streamflow
resource management
human activity
back (body region)
natural resource management
water supply
drought
stream flow
arid lands
space and time
ecosystem
ecosystems

Keywords

  • Drought
  • Paleoclimatology
  • Western U.S.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

Cite this

A paleo perspective on hydroclimatic variability in the western United States. / Woodhouse, Connie.

In: Aquatic Sciences, Vol. 66, No. 4, 11.2004, p. 346-356.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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