Tree rings show evidence of droughts, floods along the Potomac River
350 years of data aligns with historical documents, study shows
By Laura Arenschield, Ohio State News
Photo by Sara L. Cottle via Unsplash.com
Tree rings in the Potomac River watershed show evidence of severe droughts and floods over the last 350 years – and scientists can pinpoint the years of those events well enough that they align with writings from people that include Thomas Jefferson.
The findings, published earlier this month in the journal Water Resources Research, could help water managers predict water shortages and floods in Washington, D.C.
“We’ve got these Jefferson quotes and other qualitative records – we have somebody saying the drought was really bad,” said Jim Stagge, lead author of the paper and an assistant professor of civil, environmental and geodetic engineering at The Ohio State University. “But as an engineer, the next question is, how bad was it in terms of numbers? That’s what we wanted to find out. Because if we know how bad it was, we might be able to predict how bad it could be in the future.”
This story was originally published on December 23, 2020 by Ohio State News.