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Keywords:

  • Utah;
  • streamflow reconstruction;
  • dendrochronology;
  • drought;
  • climate variability;
  • water availability

[1] We created six new tree-ring chronologies in northern Utah, which were used with preexisting chronologies from Utah and western Wyoming to reconstruct mean annual flow for the Logan River, the largest tributary of the regionally important Bear River. Two reconstruction models were developed, a “Local” model that incorporated two Rocky Mountain juniper chronologies located within the basin, and a “Regional” model that also included limber pine and pinyon pine chronologies from a larger area. The Local model explained 48.2% of the variability in the instrumental record and the juniper chronologies better captured streamflow variability than Douglas-fir collected within the Logan basin. Incorporating chronologies from the northern and southern margins of the transition zone of the western precipitation dipole increased the skill of the Regional model (r2 = 0.581). We suggest the increased Regional model skill indicates that both nodes of the western precipitation dipole influence northern Utah climate. The importance of Rocky Mountain juniper in both reconstructions of streamflow for this region suggests that future work should target these trees where more traditionally desirable species are not present. The reconstructions provide the first extended record of streamflow in northern Utah. Preinstrumental streamflows (1605–1921) exhibited considerable variability when compared to the instrumental period (1922–2005). Our findings confirm that the inherent uncertainty in contemporary water management and planning in the region is due to hydroclimatic variability that has persisted for at least the last four centuries.