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1200 years of climate change in the Bear River Basin, Utah

Posted By Jo Nova On September 2, 2016 @ 4:18 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

A bunch of scientists used tree rings to figure out the streamflow in Bear River, Utah, since the dark ages. This is what a perfect stable climate looks like.

Obviously we need immediate carbon trading to stop whatever is going to happen next:

Streamflow, climate change, millennia, Utah, Great Basin, USA

Figure 1. Reconstructed Bear River decadal-scale drought (brown) and wet (green) periods from cubic smoothing spline with frequency response of 25% at wavelength 10 years. Dashed lines indicate 1 SD from reconstruction mean. Adapted from DeRose et al. (2016).

Thanks to the excellent CO2Science site for analyzing it in their collection.

In   1200 Years of Historic Streamflow we see that there was a dreadful drought in 1210 that lasted 70 years.  The worst wet period lasted nearly 50 years and started in 1378. Spot the effect of CO2. Anyone?

Naturally there has already been a Bear River Climate Change Adaptation Workshop, with “thirty-nine representatives of 20 state and federal agencies, local governments, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations.”

The old 2010 Workshop  report tells us we have to let go of the idea that the climate is stable  — “stationarity is dead”. *

“ We are no longer working in a world where we can assume climate stability”

Climate stability and persistent ecosystems are no more. Several years ago it became apparent to the conservation community that we are no longer working in a world where we can assume climate stability and persistent ecosystems. Hydrologists now say, for example, that “stationarity is dead.” The assemblages of species we have known as persistent, relatively stable, natural communities will disassemble and reassemble in new and unpredictable ways. In fact, climate change is already causing subtle change, like changes in timing of migrations or leaf-out, and dramatic and sometimes surprising change, such as widespread forest dieback, due to the crossing of temperature and moisture thresholds.

Obviously mums, dads and scout leaders want emissions reductions so we can return to perfect medieval weather:

We must avoid unmanageable climate change by reducing carbon emissions now. The community’s first response to the emerging science of climate change has been to push for reductions in the emissions that may lead to what some of the world’s most prominent ecologists and climatologists call “dangerous climate change.” TNC and other conservation organizations have taken this on in earnest through efforts in Washington, state capitals, and internationally, to promote new policies that would establish emission reduction targets and controlling the global deforestation that causes 17% of GHG emissions.

We don’t know what will happen next but we will figure out what to do about it:

Though there remains some uncertainty about projected climate change effects, now is the time to figure out how to manage risk and minimize loss.

Did billions of dollars buy a single climate model that can model that Bear River flow?

Governments, businesses and individuals have made an enormous investment – billions of dollars – in building an understanding the climate system, and this investment has paid off in greatly increased knowledge about global and regional patterns. Even though uncertainties remain, any action we take now to understand the local effects and to build resilience will help us, over time, become more effective in the face of ecological change that may be more rapid and extensive than any of us can now imagine.

Blah Blah Blah, eh!

Locals may want to add in links to media stories of climate change in Bear River, Utah.


DeRose, R.J., Bekker, M.F., Wang, S.-Y., Buckley, B.M., Kjelgren, R.K., Bardsley, T., Rittenour, T.M. and Allen, E.B. 2015. A millennium-length reconstruction of Bear River stream flow, UtahJournal of Hydrology 529: 524-534.

* edited to make it clear that the quotes below that were not from the team who did the proxy study.

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