Drying of the West  

TOPIC: Tree Ring Research

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Date: Tues, Jan 29 2008 9:58 am

There is a superb article in the February issue of National Geographic : "Drying of the West" by Robert Kunzig (pp. 90 - 113). With drier conditions appearing to be more of the norm west of the Mississippi, more people are trying to look at what the long term trends have been over the last 2000 years. This is being done by studying tree rings. The work of Dave Meko, a scientist at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona, is given special attention. Twenty to thirty years ago, funding for and interest in such research was minimal. That's not the case anymore.

On page 100 there is a 700 year cross section from a Douglas fir. It highlights the compression of rings from the late 1200's representing the drought from that time period that may have driven the Anasazi from Mesa Verde. This page also has a graph that shows the wet and dry cycle fluctuations that have occurred going back to the year 800 A.D.

Ed Nizalowski
Newark Valley High School
Newark Valley, NY

"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life."

John Muir