The University of Arizona

NM Climate Division 3 | CLIMAS

NM Climate Division 3

Single-Year Reconstruction and Extremes

The graph below shows the cool season (November-April) precipitation reconstruction for New Mexico climate division 3. Values are expressed as a percentage of 1000-1988 average precipitation. he adjusted 2006 and 1950 averages, the two driest years during the dry periods of the 1950s and 2000s, are plotted in orange and red, respectively, for comparison. As the reconstruction shows, many years in the past thousand years were drier than 2006.

R2 = 44%

View calibration/verification data

Reconstructed Average (1000-1988) = 90 mm

Instrumental Average (1896-2010) = 88 mm


Driest Year Wettest Year
Year Precipitation (mm) Percent Average Year Precipitaton (mm) Percent Average
1254 31.2 34.2 1816 182.6 200.3
1542 36.7 40.2 1618 179.4 196.8
1685 36.7 40.2 1840 177.2 194.3
1085 38.3 42.0 1353 175.3 192.2
1424 43.5 47.7 1555 174.8 191.7

Multi-Year Reconstructions and Extremes

The graph below shows the five-year average precipitation reconstruction for New Mexico climate division 3; values are expressed as a percentage of 1000-1988 average precipitation. The adjusted 1950-1954 and 2006-2010 averages for this climate division are provided for comparison (orange and red lines, respectively). Several extended dry periods stand out, particularly the late 1000s-early 1100s, late 1200s, early 1300s, late 1500s, late-1700s, and the mid-1900s.


   R2 = 44%
View calibration/verification data

5-Year Reconstructed Average (1000-1988) = 90 mm/yr; 450 mm/5-yr

5-Year Instrumental Average (1896-2010) = 88 mm/yr; 440 mm/5-yr

Driest Five-year Period Wettest Five-year Period
Years Precipitation (mm) Percent Average Years Precipitation (mm) Percent Average
1090-1094 301.9 67.5 1553-1557 720.8 161.1
1165-1169 315.1 70.4 1617-1621 712.8 159.3
11422-1426 319.3 71.4 1837-1841 701.5 156.8
1579-1583 319.5 71.4 1609-1613 686.2 153.4
1084-1088 324.3 72.5 1332-1336 681.9 152.4


Instrumental Record and Extremes

Precipitation was below average for climate division 3 (30.9%) in 2006, making it one of the driest years in the instrumental record.

Driest One-Year Period Wettest One-Year Period
    Year      Precipitation (mm) Percent Average      Year      Precipitation (mm) Percent Average
1904 7.6 8.7 1941 231.1 263.0
1950 21.1 24.0 1919 210.8 239.9
1996 22.1 25.1 1915 209.6 238.4
1967 26.7 30.3 1905 198.6 226.0
2006 27.2 30.9 2005 194.1 220.8
Driest Five-Year Period Wettest Five-Year Period
Year Precipitation (mm) Percent Average Year Precipitation (mm) Percent Average
1935-1939 227.1 51.6 1999-2003 672.1 152.7
1936-1940 257.3 58.5 2003-2007 645.7 146.7
1934-1938 262.9 59.7 1940-1944 642.9 146.0
1965-1969 274.8 62.4 1942-1946 629.4 143.0
1952-1956 281.9 64.0 1914-1916 624.3 141.8

Calibration and Verification Data

The graph below shows a comparison between instrumental and reconstructed November-April precipitation for New Mexico climate division 3. The graph shows good agreement between the tree-ring and instrumental records over most of the 20th century. The R2, in this case 44%, indicates the amount of variation in the instrumental precipitation record captured by tree rings. Higher R2 values indicate more reliable reconstructions.

How the Data Were Calculated

The 1000-year reconstruction of cool-season precipitation is presented as the combined neural network and linear regression reconstructions. The two separate reconstructions were combined in the following manner. If both the linear regression and neural network reconstructions were below the calibration in any given year, then the linear regression value was used. In all other instances, a simple average of the two reconstructions was used. The rationale for this approach is based on detailed analyses and the simple observation that the linear regression does a better job at capturing the drought years. The reconstructions for each division were “smoothed” using a centered 5-year running average.

These reconstructions were developed using millimeters as the measurement unit. However, it is sometimes easier to think of precipitation in terms of the percentage of the long term average. To convert these data to percentage of average each reconstructed value was simply divided by the average of the reconstruction. The same procedure was used to convert instrumental precipitation.

The threshold line for the most recent drought period was calculated by first determining the percentage of average precipitation received during the year or averaged over the last five years, then dividing by the long term averages. In the case of the five-year smoothed reconstructions the average is based on five year averages over the 1896-2010 period. Comparison of the most recent drought in the 2000s to the long term average is problematic, however, because these reconstructions only extend through 1988. In addition, tree-ring data do not match the variance contained within the instrumental data so an adjustment is needed to be made in order to make more reasonable comparisons. The 2006 value (or the 5 year average) was first adjusted relative to the 1896-1988 reference period by calculating the percentage of average over the entire period (1896-2010), then determining the value relative to only the common overlap period (1896-1988). For example, New Mexico Climate Division 3 recorded 27.2 mm of precipitation in 2006, which is 30.9% of the 1896-2010 average (133 mm). To put this into the context of the tree-ring reconstruction in terms of millimeters of precipitation, this value (30.9% or 0.309) was multiplied by the reconstructed average over the period 1896-1988 (86.4 mm), which yields an adjusted value of 26.7 mm.

A note about dates: while a single year or range of dates is given in the data for simplicity, cool-season precipitation estimates are for November-April. For example data listed for 2002 would actually be from November 2001 to April 2002.