The Great Basin of North America and Wyoming specifically, is known for its arid and semi-arid environment, as well as prolonged and sometimes severe droughts. Drought is the prolonged and abnormal deficiency of moisture with the concomitant decline in runoff to a level significantly lower than usual (Guldin 1989). The history of droughts in Wyoming has been uncertain in the past, but recent studies of tree rings in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming have given insight to droughts as far back as 1260A.D. (Gray et al. 2004). Looking at tree ring records in Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and limber pine (Pinus flexilis) trees, Stephen Gray and his colleagues discovered that droughts which have been experienced in Wyoming since the 1750's, are weak in severity and length when compared to those since. The most severe drought period in Wyoming’s history occurred from 1262 to 1281. The droughts of the 1930’s and 1950’s, which have been used as benchmarks for all other droughts in the United States in recent times (Woodhouse et al. 2002), are ranked 149th and 28th respectively in comparison (Gray et al. 2004). The five top ranking droughts for 10, 15, and 20 year periods are all prior to the 1800’s, with the four driest single years being 1263, 1274, 1278, and 1280 (Gray et al. 2004). This indicates a change in precipitation patterns in the Big Horn Basin area of Wyoming since the 18th century, as all recent droughts have been mild when compared to those of Wyoming’s past.
Droughts in Wyoming’s future are unpredictable and uncertain; however, Richard Guldin of the Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station in Fort Collins, Colorado, has made some predictions for the water situati...
... middle of paper ...
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Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, since 1260 A.D. Journal of Climate. Vol.17 Issue 19: 3855-3865.
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Guldin, Richard W. 1989. An Analysis of the Water Situation in the United
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Heitschmidt et al. 1999. Drought and Grazing I: Effects on quantity of
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