Establishing the long-term range of variability in drought conditions for Southwest Wisconsin

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03/01/2013 - 02/29/2016

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  • Evan Larson, UW-Platteville

We propose to develop a network of tree-ring chronologies from pre-settlement oak trees growing throughout southwest Wisconsin to reconstruct the long-term (300+ year) variability in hydrologic conditions over this region. Such data will provide critical information about past variability in water resources and the frequency of extreme events within the climate system, thereby providing long-term context for instrumental records and enabling more accurate predictions for how climate change will affect Wisconsin’s water resources in the future. Our research will integrate scientific inquiry with abundant opportunities for undergraduate students to gain hands-on research experience while participating in a project ideally situated to bring scientists, managers, and landowners together through a shared concern for water. The PIs for this project have expertise in tree-ring research and extensive experience mentoring undergraduate students and disseminating their research through presentations and peer-reviewed publications. This project will enrich the professional development of a recent UW-Platteville graduate, help create a highly-skilled and technically-savvy Wisconsin workforce, and expand the research capabilities of the Tree-Ring, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Laboratory (TREES Lab), a newly established Center of Excellence in Undergraduate Research at UW-Platteville. The results of this research will improve understanding of the spatial and temporal trends in long-term hydrologic conditions and the frequency of extreme events in the past. Tree-ring-based hydrologic reconstructions will enhance the data currently available to calibrate climate change models by providing a long-term perspective at multiple spatial scales, while developing innovative outreach opportunities for better understanding the implications of climate change for Wisconsin.

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