Navajo Nation water management needs drive a snowpack reconstruction

Monday, March 8, 2021


Water flows in the creek, but snow covers the ground and trees in the background.
Becky Brice Whiskey Creek, Chuska Mountains, Navajo Nation.

Navajo Nation water managers had snowpack records for only the past few decades, but needed a much longer context to assess how the pattern of changes in this important water resource fitted into the history of droughts on timescales of centuries. Former LTRR graduate student Becky Brice, and several LTRR co-authors have met this need by using tree-ring data to reconstruct snowpack in two different locations: the Chuska mountains, where water from the snow directly supplies part of the Navajo Nation, and Williams Ski Run, 250 km distant in the San Francisco Peaks, expected to reveal more of a regional perspective; the reconstructions went back to 1656 CE and 1694 CE.

Brice, B., Guiterman, C.H., Woodhouse C., McClellan, C., and Sheppard, P. (2021) Comparing tree-ring based reconstructions of snowpack variability at different scales for the Navajo Nation, Climate Services, 22, 100213