Essay about History and Future of Wyoming’s Droughts

Essay about History and Future of Wyoming’s Droughts

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History and Future of Wyoming’s Droughts


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 ...


...construction of Precipitation in the

Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, since 1260 A.D. Journal of Climate. Vol.17 Issue 19: 3855-3865.

Growing thirst, A. 2003. Economist. Vol. 366 Issue 8308: 34.


Guldin, Richard W. 1989. An Analysis of the Water Situation in the United

States: 1989-2040. USDA General Technological Report RM-177.

Heitschmidt et al. 1999. Drought and Grazing I: Effects on quantity of

forage produced. Journal of Range Management. Vol. 52: 440-446.

Hild et al. 2001. Drought and Grazing III: root dynamics and germinable

seed bank. Journal of Range Management. Vol. 54: 292-298.

Singer et al. 1989. Drought, Fires, and Large Mammals. BioScience.

Vol. 39: 716-722.

Woodhouse et al. 2002. Drought in the Western Great Plains, 1845-56:

Impacts and Implications. Bulletin of American Meteorological Society. Vol. 83: 1485-1492.

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