Sacramento river flow reconstructed to A.D. 869 from tree rings

David M. Meko, Matthew D. Therrell, Christopher H. Baisan, Malcolm K. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

216 Scopus citations


A time series of annual flow of the Sacramento River, California, is reconstructed to A.D. 869 from tree rings for a long-term perspective on hydrologic drought. Reconstructions derived by principal components regression of flow on time-varying subsets of tree-ring chronologies account for 64 to 81 percent of the flow variance in the 1906 to 1977 calibration period. A Monte Carlo analysis of reconstructed n-year running means indicates that the gaged record contains examples of drought extremes for averaging periods of perhaps = 6 to 10 years, but not for longer and shorter averaging periods. For example, the estimated probability approaches 1.0 that the flow in A.D. 1580 was lower than the lowest single-year gaged flow. The tree-ring record also suggests that persistently high or low flows over 50-year periods characterize some parts of the long-term flow history. The results should contribute to sensible water resources planning for the Sacramento Basin and to the methodology of incorporating tree-ring data in the assessment of the probability of hydrologic drought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1029-1039
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Dendrohydrology
  • Drought
  • Meteorology/climatology
  • Modeling
  • Sacramento River

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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