Evidence of a multi-centennial scale dry period between ∼2800 and 1850 cal yr BP is documented by pollen, mollusks, diatoms, and sediment in spring sediments from Stonehouse Meadow in Spring Valley, eastern central Nevada, U.S. We refer to this period as the Late Holocene Dry Period. Based on sediment recovered, Stonehouse Meadow was either absent or severely restricted in size at ∼8000 cal yr BP. Beginning ∼7500 cal yr BP, the meadow became established and persisted to ∼3000 cal yr BP when it began to dry. Comparison of the timing of this late Holocene drought record to multiple records extending from the eastern Sierra Nevada across the central Great Basin to the Great Salt Lake support the interpretation that this dry period was regional. The beginning and ending dates vary among sites, but all sites record multiple centuries of dry climate between 2500 and 1900 cal yr BP. This duration makes it the longest persistent dry period within the late Holocene. In contrast, sites in the northern Great Basin record either no clear evidence of drought, or have wetter than average climate during this period, suggesting that the northern boundary between wet and dry climates may have been between about 40° and 42° N latitude. This dry in the southwest and wet in the northwest precipitation pattern across the Great Basin is supported by large-scale spatial climate pattern hypotheses involving ENSO, PDO, AMO, and the position of the Aleutian Low and North Pacific High, particularly during winter.
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The late Holocene dry period: multiproxy evidence for an extended drought between 2800 and 1850 cal yr BP across the central Great Basin, USA