Tree-ring-based estimates of long-term seasonal precipitation in the Souris River Region of Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Manitoba

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Abstract

Historically unprecedented flooding occurred in the Souris River Basin of Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Manitoba in 2011, during a longer term period of wet conditions in the basin. In order to develop a model of future flows, there is a need to evaluate effects of past multidecadal climate variability and/or possible climate change on precipitation. In this study, tree-ring chronologies and historical precipitation data in a four-degree buffer around the Souris River Basin were analyzed to develop regression models that can be used for predicting long-term variations of precipitation. To focus on longer term variability, 12-year moving average precipitation was modeled in five subregions (determined through cluster analysis of measures of precipitation) of the study area over three seasons (November–February, March–June and July–October). The models used multiresolution decomposition (an additive decomposition based on powers of two using a discrete wavelet transform) of tree-ring chronologies from Canada and the US and seasonal 12-year moving average precipitation based on Adjusted and Homogenized Canadian Climate Data and US Historical Climatology Network data. Results show that precipitation varies on long-term (multidecadal) time scales of 16, 32 and 64 years. Past extended pluvial and drought events, which can vary greatly with season and subregion, were highlighted by the models. Results suggest that the recent wet period may be a part of natural variability on a very long time scale.

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Ryberg, K. R., Vecchia, A. V., Akyüz, F. A., & Lin, W. (2016). Tree-ring-based estimates of long-term seasonal precipitation in the Souris River Region of Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Manitoba. Canadian Water Resources Journal, 41(3), 412–428. https://doi.org/10.1080/07011784.2016.1164627

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