Slides supporting a presentation at the University of Stockholm's Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
Canada is rightly considered a water-rich nation, but persistent drought is still a leading source of risk to agriculture and energy production, particularly in the dry western interior. During the 20th century, the Canadian Prairies were less affected by decadal-scale shifts in hydroclimate than other places in North America, but the relative brevity of instrumental records makes it difficult to evaluate the potential duration and geographic scope of severe drought. Tree-ring and other proxy records show that that parts of the the Canadian Prairies experienced, relatively recently, summer droughts that were more intense and more long lasting than those observed in instrumental records. These past droughts serve as alternative worst-case scenarios that water managers can use to evaluate the resilience of their systems to conditions outside their personal or institutional experience. Comparing regional tree-ring records against the broader North American network also indicates that studies investigating the patterns and mechanisms of past drought across the continent need to consider the potential effects of seasonality biases in paleoclimate proxies.