2,200-Year tree-ring and lake-sediment based snowpack reconstruction for the northern Rocky Mountains highlights the historic magnitude of recent snow drought

Quaternary Science Advances
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Abstract

In recent decades, Rocky Mountain accumulated snowpack levels have experienced rapid declines, yet long-term records of snowpack prior to the installation of snowpack observation stations in the early and mid 20th century are limited. To date, a small number of tree-ring based reconstructions of April 1 Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) in the northern Rocky Mountains have extended modern records of snowpack variability to ∼1200 C.E. Carbonate isotope lake sediment records, provide an opportunity to further extend tree-ring based reconstructions through the Holocene, providing a millennial-scale temporal record that allows for an evaluation of multi-scale drivers of snowpack variability, from internal climate dynamics to orbital-scale forcings. Here we present a ∼2200 year preliminary reconstruction of northern Rockies snowpack based on δ18O measurements of sediment carbonates collected from Foy Lake, Montana. We explore the statistical calibration of lake sediment δ18O to an annually resolved snowpack reconstruction from tree rings, and develop an approach to assess and quantify potential sources of error in this reconstruction approach. The sediment-based snowpack reconstruction shows strong low-frequency variability in snowpack over the last two millennia with few snow droughts approaching the magnitude of recent snowpack declines. Given the growing availability of high-resolution, carbonate-rich lake sediment records, such reconstructions could help improve our understanding of how snowpack conditions varied under previous climatic events (mid-Holocene climate optimum ca. 9−6 ka), providing critical insights for anticipating future snowpack conditions.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title 2,200-Year tree-ring and lake-sediment based snowpack reconstruction for the northern Rocky Mountains highlights the historic magnitude of recent snow drought
Series title Quaternary Science Advances
DOI 10.1016/j.qsa.2020.100013
Volume 2
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 100013, 13 p.
Country Canada, United States
State Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming
Other Geospatial Nothern Rocky Mountains
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