Dendrochronology in the Tribal Lands of Northeast Arizona

Project Dates

Tree-ring records of past climate not only provide paleoclimatic information about long-term natural climate variability, but are also a source of climate information that is meaningful and accessible to non-specialists. Northeastern Arizona, including Navajo and Hopi tribal lands, is an arid region that has experienced prolonged drought in recent years. People in the region rely on dryland farming and ranching, and these recent drought conditions have had serious impacts on rangelands and water supplies. Climate change will bring warmer and likely drier conditions. In this project, we will utilize three collections of tree-ring data from 1) a site in Tsegi Canyon, 2) a site south of Crown Point, and 3) one other near Fort Wingate, to develop chronologies for these tribal regions. These chronologies will provide an extended history of drought for this region under natural climate variability, which may be useful for placing the current drought in a long-term context. The ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir chronologies will be analyzed for drought information primarily for the cool season, but we will also explore the feasibility of using the latewood widths for summer moisture. The chronologies, and the climate information they contain, will be the basis for a set of outreach materials, both in the form of a handout or brief report written for a general audience, and a presentation for tribal members. Working in concert with CLIMAS team members Ferguson, Crimmins, and Garfin, and their tribal contacts, we will develop these materials in response to needs expressed by these stakeholders.