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WHY THE PAST
MATTERS
how tree rings and environmental history help us make
better decisions about water, climate and the f...
managing   RESOURCES


                 managing   RISKS
Observation
“ The hills look like sawdust, really, that colour.
                     I've never seen it where the grass didn't
       ...
what’s the worst that can happen?
Colorado River

                 Photograph: Al_HikesAZ
Colorado River Compact
                  1922
Average river flow, 1906 to 1922



18 MAF
allocated to 7 basin states

            15 MAF




Average river flow, 1906 to 1922



18 MAF
allocated to Mexico

       1½ MAF
             allocated to 7 basin states

            15 MAF




Average river flow, 19...
Water transfers in the American southwest




                               Courtesy Glen MacDonald
Observed discharge, Colorado River




    Compact allocation (16.5 MAF)
Average river flow, 1906 to 2005



15 MAF
Average river flow, 1906 to 2005



15 MAF
Climate history of North America
                    Younger              Demise of Laurentide
                     Dryas ...
CLIMATE PROXIES
              ice cores
             tree rings
       lake sediments
         speleothems
               ...
(It was like this when we found it)
Plains droughts




Red River floods




                  Decadal variability
D R O U G H T FROM TREE RINGS

         “...and the falling raindrops ripple out into every tree ring.”
                  ...
Tree-ring display at elementary school




                                    Photograph:Tom Swetnam
earlywood     latewood




                                cessation of growth
Photograph: Kevin Anchukaitis
Colorado River

                 Photograph: Al_HikesAZ
“rethink old assumptions”



       CHARLIE ESTER
       SALT RIVER PROJECT
Photo: NASA’s Earth Observatory
Renewable water resources, by country
     Brazil

    Russia

  Canada

       USA

     China

       India

Columbia

 ...
Cadillac, Saskatchewan, 1934




                North Battleford, Saskatchewan, 1930




                                ...
“   Drought severity over the Northern Plains
    during 1932 – 1939 was likely triggered

                               ...
Martin-Philippe Girardin
            Canadian Forest Service


                                                         Gr...
Prairie tree-ring network




St. George et al., 2009
Red Deer




Calgary
North Saskatchewan River
Whirlpool Point
Alberta
Prairie tree-ring network




St. George et al., 2009
755 m 3/s

847 m 3/s

809 m 3/s

770 m 3/s

823 m 3/s

787 m 3/s

901 m 3/s
      3
MEGADROUGHT
      intensity at least equivalent to modern multiyear droughts
      duration longer than the several years ...
58 oN



         56 oN
                                                  1718 - 1722
        54 oN



   52 oN



 50 oN
...
1842 to 1876
           Above average                  Below average




Source: St. George et al., 2009
g e o l o g i c a l
STRESS TESTS
     for hydrological systems
INDUSTRY PARTNER
Manitoba Hydro
“ This
 must
  be
voodoo.”
 Anonymous
water manager
St. George et al., accepted,The Holocene
TRACKING EXTR EM E FLOODS

                       “Winnipeg had a close call.”
            INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION
AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, Lt. Brendan Evans
Winnipeg
             population: 680,000




                                   River diversion


                       ...
have floods ever been worse?
Red River
                          Manitoba
Photograph: Greg Brooks
collecting
subfossil oaks   66
                      Photograph: Erik Nielsen
67
St.. George and Nielsen,The Holocene, 2003
“
          The forts now stand like a castle of romance in the midst of
          an ocean of deep contending currents, t...
Flood damaged   Normal growth




                                                       69
Photograph: Suzana Radivojevic
350 years of Red River floods




St. George and Nielsen,The Holocene, 2003
Winnipeg floodway
        expansion   71
D E C A D A L CLIMATE VARIABILITY
‘Drought’ people get.

‘Decadal-scale climate variability’
gets me that glazed eye look.

                            JOHN...
Pacific Decadal Oscillation index
3


2


1


0


-1


-2


-3
     1900   1920     1940      1960     1980   2000
LOW
 frequency
“
                          Decadal prediction, a new eld of study, focuses on time-
                          evolving re...
Decadal ‘hotspots’ in winter precipitation




0%   10%                 20%               30% variance
Decadal variability synchronizes rainfall, streamflow and hazards in northern California




Ault and St. George, Journal o...
Levee break, Sacramento River




Photograph: California Department of Water Resources
High D2M power in the ENSO-PDO ‘null’




Ault and St. George, Journal of Climate, in press
tree-ring records




                    Photograph: Neil Pederson
L E S S O N S F R O M THE PAST

                “Study the past to divine the future.”
                                   ...
managing   RESOURCES


                 managing   RISKS
WHY THE PAST
MATTERS
how tree rings and environmental history help us make
better decisions about water, climate and the f...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the ...
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Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the future

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Why the past matters - how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, energy and the future

  1. 1. WHY THE PAST MATTERS how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, climate and the future
  2. 2. managing RESOURCES managing RISKS
  3. 3. Observation
  4. 4. “ The hills look like sawdust, really, that colour. I've never seen it where the grass didn't turn green in the spring before.” JERRY MURPHY Elnora, Alberta source: Globe and Mail, 1 July 2009
  5. 5. what’s the worst that can happen?
  6. 6. Colorado River Photograph: Al_HikesAZ
  7. 7. Colorado River Compact 1922
  8. 8. Average river flow, 1906 to 1922 18 MAF
  9. 9. allocated to 7 basin states 15 MAF Average river flow, 1906 to 1922 18 MAF
  10. 10. allocated to Mexico 1½ MAF allocated to 7 basin states 15 MAF Average river flow, 1906 to 1922 18 MAF
  11. 11. Water transfers in the American southwest Courtesy Glen MacDonald
  12. 12. Observed discharge, Colorado River Compact allocation (16.5 MAF)
  13. 13. Average river flow, 1906 to 2005 15 MAF
  14. 14. Average river flow, 1906 to 2005 15 MAF
  15. 15. Climate history of North America Younger Demise of Laurentide Dryas Ice Sheet 20 16 12 8 4 0 THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO Final Drainage of Lake Agassiz LAST GLACIAL MODERN MAXIMUM OBSERVATIONS
  16. 16. CLIMATE PROXIES ice cores tree rings lake sediments speleothems corals
  17. 17. (It was like this when we found it)
  18. 18. Plains droughts Red River floods Decadal variability
  19. 19. D R O U G H T FROM TREE RINGS “...and the falling raindrops ripple out into every tree ring.” ROGER DEAKIN
  20. 20. Tree-ring display at elementary school Photograph:Tom Swetnam
  21. 21. earlywood latewood cessation of growth Photograph: Kevin Anchukaitis
  22. 22. Colorado River Photograph: Al_HikesAZ
  23. 23. “rethink old assumptions” CHARLIE ESTER SALT RIVER PROJECT
  24. 24. Photo: NASA’s Earth Observatory
  25. 25. Renewable water resources, by country Brazil Russia Canada USA China India Columbia Peru Zaire 0 2,000 4,000 6,000 Source: Shiklomanov and Rodda, 2003 km3/y
  26. 26. Cadillac, Saskatchewan, 1934 North Battleford, Saskatchewan, 1930 Photographs: National Archives of Canada
  27. 27. “ Drought severity over the Northern Plains during 1932 – 1939 was likely triggered ” instead by random atmospheric variability. Hoerling et al., Geophysical Research Le ers, 2009
  28. 28. Martin-Philippe Girardin Canadian Forest Service Greg Pederson United States Geological Survey Glen MacDonald David Sauchyn Emma Watson UCLA University of Regina Environment Canada Erik Nielsen Jacques Tardif Manitoba Geological Survey University of Winnipeg
  29. 29. Prairie tree-ring network St. George et al., 2009
  30. 30. Red Deer Calgary
  31. 31. North Saskatchewan River
  32. 32. Whirlpool Point Alberta
  33. 33. Prairie tree-ring network St. George et al., 2009
  34. 34. 755 m 3/s 847 m 3/s 809 m 3/s 770 m 3/s 823 m 3/s 787 m 3/s 901 m 3/s 3
  35. 35. MEGADROUGHT intensity at least equivalent to modern multiyear droughts duration longer than the several years to decade thereof Seager et al., Journal of Climate, 2008
  36. 36. 58 oN 56 oN 1718 - 1722 54 oN 52 oN 50 oN 48 oN oW 90 114 oW o o oW 96 108 W 102 W Ringwidth anomaly −2 -2 −1 0 0 1 2 +2 (deviations) Source: St. George et al., 2009
  37. 37. 1842 to 1876 Above average Below average Source: St. George et al., 2009
  38. 38. g e o l o g i c a l STRESS TESTS for hydrological systems
  39. 39. INDUSTRY PARTNER Manitoba Hydro
  40. 40. “ This must be voodoo.” Anonymous water manager
  41. 41. St. George et al., accepted,The Holocene
  42. 42. TRACKING EXTR EM E FLOODS “Winnipeg had a close call.” INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION
  43. 43. AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, Lt. Brendan Evans
  44. 44. Winnipeg population: 680,000 River diversion Main channel Photograph: Greg Brooks
  45. 45. have floods ever been worse?
  46. 46. Red River Manitoba Photograph: Greg Brooks
  47. 47. collecting subfossil oaks 66 Photograph: Erik Nielsen
  48. 48. 67 St.. George and Nielsen,The Holocene, 2003
  49. 49. “ The forts now stand like a castle of romance in the midst of an ocean of deep contending currents, the water extending for at least a mile behind them, and they are thereby only approachable by boats and canoes.” Francis Heron Hudson Bay Company, 1826 St.. George and Rannie, Canadian Water Resources Journal, 2003
  50. 50. Flood damaged Normal growth 69 Photograph: Suzana Radivojevic
  51. 51. 350 years of Red River floods St. George and Nielsen,The Holocene, 2003
  52. 52. Winnipeg floodway expansion 71
  53. 53. D E C A D A L CLIMATE VARIABILITY
  54. 54. ‘Drought’ people get. ‘Decadal-scale climate variability’ gets me that glazed eye look. JOHN FLECK Albuquerque Journal
  55. 55. Pacific Decadal Oscillation index 3 2 1 0 -1 -2 -3 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
  56. 56. LOW frequency
  57. 57. “ Decadal prediction, a new eld of study, focuses on time- evolving regional climate conditions over the next 10–30 yr, which is a time period of interest to infrastructure planners, water resource managers, and others. e decadal time scale offers a critical bridge for informing adaptation strategies as climate varies and changes. ” Meehl et al., BAMS, 2009 Photograph: Kman999
  58. 58. Decadal ‘hotspots’ in winter precipitation 0% 10% 20% 30% variance
  59. 59. Decadal variability synchronizes rainfall, streamflow and hazards in northern California Ault and St. George, Journal of Climate, in press
  60. 60. Levee break, Sacramento River Photograph: California Department of Water Resources
  61. 61. High D2M power in the ENSO-PDO ‘null’ Ault and St. George, Journal of Climate, in press
  62. 62. tree-ring records Photograph: Neil Pederson
  63. 63. L E S S O N S F R O M THE PAST “Study the past to divine the future.” CONFUCIUS
  64. 64. managing RESOURCES managing RISKS
  65. 65. WHY THE PAST MATTERS how tree rings and environmental history help us make better decisions about water, climate and the future

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