Duration and severity of Medieval drought in the Lake Tahoe Basin
Kleppe, J. A.
Brothers, Daniel S.
Kent, Graham M.
Driscoll, Neal W.
MetadataShow full item record
KeywordMedieval climatic anomaly; Sidescan sonar; Holocene; Dendrochronology; Drought; Fallen Leaf Lake
Droughts in the western U.S. in the past 200 years are small compared to several megadroughts that occurred during Medieval times. We reconstruct duration and magnitude of extreme droughts in the northern Sierra Nevada from hydroclimatic conditions in Fallen Leaf Lake, California. Stands of submerged trees rooted in situ below the lake surface were imaged with sidescan sonar and radiocarbon analysis yields an age estimate of ∼1250 AD. Tree-ring records and submerged paleoshoreline geomorphology suggest a Medieval low-stand of Fallen Leaf Lake lasted more than 220 years. Over eighty more trees were found lying on the lake floor at various elevations above the paleoshoreline. Water-balance calculations suggest annual precipitation was less than 60% normal from late 10th century to early 13th century AD. Hence, the lake’s shoreline dropped 40–60 m below its modern elevation. Stands of pre-Medieval trees in this lake and in Lake Tahoe suggest the region experienced severe drought at least every 650–1150 years during the mid- and late-Holocene. These observations quantify paleo-precipitation and recurrence of prolonged drought in the northern Sierra Nevada.
This paper is not subject to U.S. copyright. The definitive version was published in Quaternary Science Reviews 30 (2011): 3269-3279, doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2011.08.015.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
A simple mechanism for the climatological midsummer drought along the Pacific coast of Central America Karnauskas, Kristopher B.; Seager, Richard; Giannini, A.; Busalacchi, Antonio J. (Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, UNAM, 2013-04)The global distribution, seasonal evolution, and underlying mechanisms for the climatological midsummer drought (MSD) are investigated using a suite of relatively high spatial and temporal resolution station observations ...
Separating the influence of temperature, drought, and fire on interannual variability in atmospheric CO2 Keppel-Aleks, Gretchen; Wolf, Aaron S.; Mu, Mingquan; Doney, Scott C.; Morton, Douglas C.; Kasibhatla, Prasad S.; Miller, John B.; Dlugokencky, Edward J.; Randerson, James T. (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-11-19)The response of the carbon cycle in prognostic Earth system models (ESMs) contributes significant uncertainty to projections of global climate change. Quantifying contributions of known drivers of interannual variability ...
Griffin, Daniel; Anchukaitis, Kevin J. (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-12-30)For the past three years (2012–2014), California has experienced the most severe drought conditions in its last century. But how unusual is this event? Here we use two paleoclimate reconstructions of drought and precipitation ...