Tree-Ring Records of Mississippi River FLooding

Authors: Matthew D Therrell*, University of Alabama
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Hazards and Vulnerability, Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: Dendrochronology, flooding, Mississippi RIver
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Napoleon B2, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Trees growing on flooded sites can record major flood events as inter-and intra-annual variability in size, shape and arrangement of vessels in the annual xylem growth increment. As part of a project to develop tree-ring records of past flooding, we have made collections of several oak species (e.g., Quercus lyrata, Q. macrocarpa) at five sites in the Mississippi River Basin. At each of these sites sampled trees exhibit notably anomalous anatomy of growth increments formed in years coinciding with major floods. We have used these “flood rings” to develop a regional chronology of potential flood events in the basin for the past several hundred years and compare this chronology with the instrumental and historical record of flooding as well as potential large-scale forcing mechanisms. We have also developed earlywood vessel width chronologies as a proxies for flooding and find that this variable strongly reflects tree response to flooding.

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