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Are Paleoclimate Reconstructions of Past Severe Drought in the Colorado Basin Accurate Enough to Warrant Changing the Current "Law of the River"?

  • Author(s): Dracup, John A.
  • MacDonald, Glen A
  • et al.
Abstract

The research problem addressed during this study focused on assessing and improving the accuracy of climate reconstructions from tree-ring width records in the Upper Colorado River Basin. The impact of severe sustained droughts (SSD) is a major concern for water availability in the face of increasing population growth in the southwestern United States. This concern is acute in the case of the Colorado River Basin, which includes Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and California. These states withdraw significant proportions of water for drinking and irrigation from the Colorado River. Since long-term records of hydrologic variability may influence the allocation of water resources, this research has focused on the following question: Are Paleoclimate Reconstructions of Past Severe Drought in the Colorado Basin Accurate Enough to Warrant Changing the Current "Law of the River"?

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