Using the past to plan for the future-the value of paleoclimate reconstructions for water resource planning

Connie Woodhouse, Jeffrey J. Lukas, Kiyomi Morino, David Meko, Katherine Hirschboeck

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

14 Scopus citations


Drought, growing demand on limited water supplies, and the impacts of climate change are all challenging the management of water resources in the western United States. While there is an increasing focus on climate change, information from the past in the form of tree-ring reconstructions of hydrology can provide information critical to water resource management. These reconstructions document the hydrologic variability that has transpired over past centuries, including events more extreme than those experienced in the modern period. Long-term natural variability, including droughts, will underlie the effects of anthropogenic climate change in the future. Reconstructions of past flows have been generated by researchers since the 1970s but have only recently been incorporated into resource planning and management. A number of challenges exist for the incorporation of this information into management, but a variety of motivations have prompted collaboration between researchers and water resource practitioners to develop ways this information can be applied. Examples from Denver Water, the Salt River Project, and the Bureau of Reclamation illustrate both the challenges and innovative uses of the reconstructions to address management questions. Looking into the future, treering records supply important information about past climate, which, when combined with projections for future climate change, can provide a basis for robust water resource planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWater Policy and Planning in a Variable and Changing Climate
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781482227987
ISBN (Print)9781482227970
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Engineering


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