Inferring precipitation-anomaly gradients from tree rings

David M. Meko, David W. Stahle, Daniel Griffin, Troy A. Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Long-term information on gradients in precipitation-anomaly over tens to hundreds of km is important to hydroclimatology for improved understanding of the spatiotemporal variability of moisture-delivery systems and runoff. Site-centered reconstructions of cool-season (Nov-Apr) precipitation at 36 Quercus douglasii tree-ring sites in the Central Valley of California, USA, are generated, regionalized, and evaluated for ability to track north-south gradients in precipitation-anomaly. Event series are constructed for overall-wet (W), overall-dry (D), wetter-to-north (W/D) and wetter-to-south (D/W) conditions, 1557-2001. Interesting features of the event series are clustering of W events in the 1780-1790s and a three-year run of D/W events in 1816-1818 (coincidentally following the eruption of Tambora in 1815). The most recent 25 years of the event series stand out for a high frequency of W and D events and low frequency of events associated with strong gradients in precipitation-anomaly. The five strongest W events in this period and seven of the nine W events since 1934 match El Niño years. Recent changes in the event series may be a Central-Valley footprint of a well-documented post-1976 change in the atmosphere-ocean climate system over the North Pacific. Similar studies may prove useful in other geographical areas where networks of tree-ring data sufficiently sensitive to precipitation are available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-100
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary International
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2011
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Inferring precipitation-anomaly gradients from tree rings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this