Tree ring growth reveals California’s current drought is the worst in 1,200 years

Dec. 9, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — Researchers measured the growth of tree rings from 278 blue oaks in Central and Southern California and compared the information collected to a tree ring record database for longer-lived trees like sequoias and bristlecone pines.

MINNEAPOLIS — A study published in the journal of the American Geophysical Union and undertaken by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Minnesota concluded that California’s past three drought years are the most severe that region has experienced in at least 1,200 years, according to a press release.

The study measured the growth of tree rings to estimate how wet each year has been, stated the release.

The release reported that tree rings from 278 blue oaks in Central and Southern California were measured by researchers, who then compared the collected information to a tree ring record database for longer-lived trees like sequoias and bristlecone pines, which takes the record back about 1,200 years to approximately A.D. 800.

The records revealed 37 occasions in the past 1,200 where three-year runs of drought occurred in the state, however none of these records show as little rainfall or as high of temperatures as the period of 2012-2014 in California, continued the release.

Findings from the study also reveal that 2014 was the single worst year of drought in the past 1,200 years, noted the release.

Read the entire release here.

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