ESRL/PSD Seminar Series

Space-Time Kriging Extension of Precipitation Variability at 12-km Spacing from Tree-Ring Chronologies

Franco Biondi
DendroLab Director, Department of Geography, University of Nevada


Understanding and preparing for future hydroclimatic variability greatly benefits from long (i.e., multi-century) records at seasonal to annual time steps that have been gridded at km-scale spatial intervals over a geographic region. Kriging is a geostatistical technique commonly used for optimal interpolation of environmental data, and space-time geostatistical models can improve kriging estimates when long temporal sequences of observations exist at relatively few points on the landscape. Here I present how a network of 22 tree-ring chronologies from single-leaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla) in the central Great Basin of North America was used to extend hydroclimatic records both temporally and spatially. First, the Line of Organic Correlation (LOC) method was used to reconstruct October-May total precipitation anomalies at each tree-ring site, as these ecotonal environments at the lower forest border are typically moisture limited. Individual site reconstructions were then combined using a hierarchical model of spatio-temporal kriging that produced annual anomaly maps on a 12x12 km grid during the period in common among all chronologies (1650-1976). Hydro-climatic episodes were numerically identified and modeled using their duration, magnitude, and peak. Spatial patterns were more variable during wet years than during dry years, and the evolution of drought episodes over space and time could be visualized and quantified. The most remarkable episode in the entire reconstruction was the early 1900s pluvial, followed by the late 1800s drought. The 1930s ˇDust Bowl˘ drought was among the top ten hydroclimatic episodes in the past few centuries. These results directly address the needs of water and natural resource managers with respect to planning for ˇworst case˘ scenarios of drought duration and magnitude at the watershed level. For instance, it is possible to analyze which geographical areas are more likely to be impacted by severe and sustained droughts at annual or multiannual timescales and at spatial resolutions commonly used by regional climate models.

Wed, Apr 17th
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