Preliminary reconstructions of hydroclimate in Spokane County, Washington: Implications for regional water resources

Authors: Lauren Stachowiak*, Eastern Washington University
Topics: Physical Geography, Paleoenvironmental Change, Environmental Science
Keywords: Paleoenvironments, Pacific Northwest, Sustainability
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Silver, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The majority of people living in Spokane County, Washington and various counties in northwestern Idaho receive the majority of their potable water from the Spokane aquifer. Increased demand on the aquifer follows increased population, thus an understanding of the natural, long-term (pre-1800s) hydroclimate regime of the area is vital to ensuring drought security measures in a changing climate. Such hydroclimate data can be found within the annual growth of trees. Trees are standing recorders of environmental information throughout their lifespan, and that information is stored in the variability of tree-ring widths. Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa; PIPO) is native to drier areas throughout the western US, and is a moisture-sensitive species commonly used to reconstruct spatiotemporal variations in drought. The locations for this project includes select areas within the Cheney Wetland Complex near Turnbull National Wildlife refuge, as well as areas near Riverside State Park, all within Spokane County, Washington. Tree ring measurements from samples collected in the field were combined with chronologies within the ITRDB to create a robust regional PIPO tree ring chronology by which to build the hydroclimate reconstruction. Temporal stability was assessed with the dplR package in RStudio. Preliminary results show more intense droughts to have occurred in the region in the past, indicating the possibility of more intense droughts to occur in the future, particularly as we already see trends toward increasing aridity. The implications for this potential toward a drier climate pose potential water resource issues for the region into the future.

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