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199 Role and Importance of Paleohydrology in the Study of Climate Change and Variability

Part 17. Climate Change

  1. Brenda Ekwurzel

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa209

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Ekwurzel, B. 2006. Role and Importance of Paleohydrology in the Study of Climate Change and Variability. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 17:199.

Author Information

  1. Union of Concerned Scientists, Global Environment Program, Washington, DC, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


Paleohydrology has advanced our understanding of climate by uncovering the variability of the prehistoric water cycle. Various proxy records provide insight into aspects of the hydrologic cycle that occurred before the instrumental record and allow for paleoclimate reconstructions locally or over large regions. For example, geomorphologic methods can quantify megafloods; coral or sediment core methods create paleodischarge records; rodent middens archive changes in precipitation volume and temperature; closed-basin lake level fluctuations offer quantitative evidence of changes in water balance, and tree-rings provide a high-resolution archive of precipitation or drought. This article reviews representative examples from the field of paleohydrology and demonstrates the role each has played in enhancing our understanding of climate variability.


  • paleohydrology;
  • climate variability;
  • floods;
  • droughts;
  • paleoclimate;
  • dendrochronology;
  • glacial cycles