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Keywords:

  • dendrochronology;
  • paleohydrology;
  • water supply;
  • rivers/streams;
  • watersheds;
  • flow reconstruction;
  • drought assessment

Crockett, Kris, Jonathan B. Martin, Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, Evan R. Larson, and Thomas Mirti, 2010. Assessment of Tree Rings as a Hydrologic Record in a Humid Subtropical Environment. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 1-13. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2010.00464.x

Abstract:  Information about long-term variability of streamflow is important to allocate water resources, but few historical records extend more than 75 years into the past, requiring proxy records to evaluate flow prior to that time. Flow proxies have been found in tree-ring widths in temperate regions, but have rarely been used in humid subtropical environments because the relationship between tree growth and climate was believed to be weakened by limited seasonality and stress on tree growth from drought conditions. Tree-ring residual chronologies from two forests sampled from northern Florida correlate well with historical annual discharge (r² values as high as 0.47) from 3 of 15 river-gauging stations that were used to compare with the tree-ring chronologies. The best correlations occur where streamflow has little contribution from spring discharge or continuous flow from lakes and wetlands. Streams lack correlations with the tree-ring residual chronologies (r² values as low as 0.0002) where springs and continuous discharge from lakes mute variations in their flow. Tree-ring chronologies appear to be useful for reconstruction of prehistorical variations of some streamflow in humid subtropical regions, but interpretations of the reconstructions must consider the local hydrologic conditions.