Abstract – Jessica Vanstone

Jessica Vanstone, PARC, University of Regina


The dendrochronology program, housed by the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC), at the University of Regina, was established to build a network of tree-ring chronologies spanning the montane, boreal and island forests of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, and northern Montana and North Dakota. In this sub-humid to semi-arid region, our moisture-sensitive tree-ring chronologies are proxies of seasonal and annual hydroclimate and hydrology. Dendrochronology and its related subfields (dendroclimatology, dendrohydrology, etc.) have proven invaluable disciplines for investigating spatial and temporal aspects of processes in the earth sciences that operate at annual to centennial time scales. These data sets are increasingly being used to asses past changes in long-term climate to place the global dynamics of present and future climate change in historical context. As tree-rings provide chronologies with absolute annual resolution, and are a source for hydroclimatic information, they are the preferred proxy records of climate variability at annual to multi-decadal scales spanning centuries to millennia. Dendrochronological reconstructions of hydroclimatic variables can provide perspective for instrumental data in the context of long-term historical climate conditions; as well, be used to generate modern analogues of devastating water deficits, which may then be used by water management agencies to assess how their systems would hold up under these events, and determine their ability to meet water demands within their jurisdictions, and under such acts as the Mater Agreement on Apportionment for water sharing issues. We present here a brief synopsis of the theory of dendrochronology, the application of tree-rings as proxies of long-term hydroclimatic indicators for the Canadian Prairies, and our plans for continued research in the future.