The Tree-Ring Record of Drought and Disaster Over North America

Friday, February 15, 2013
Room 302 (Hynes Convention Center)
David Stahle , University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
Severe drought over North America has a long history and prehistory of serious socioeconomic impacts.  Tree-ring reconstructions of the soil moisture balance across North America provide an exactly dated, spatially detailed record of decadal droughts during the past millennium.  Tree-ring reconstructed droughts with known or inferred social impacts included the Dust Bowl migrations of the 1930’s, the mid-19th century drought and Native American crisis on the Great Plains, the late-18th century drought of “El Año de Hambre” over Mexico, the 17th century Pueblo drought and famine in the Southwest, the 16th century megadrought linked with early colonial famine and disease, the late-13th century “Great Pueblo Drought” associated with Anasazi abandonment, and the megadroughts contemporaneous with Classic Period decline in Mesoamerica.