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Frequent and persistent droughts exacerbate the problems caused by the inherent scarcity of water in the semiarid to arid parts of the southwestern United States. The occurrence of drought is driven by climatic variability, which for years before about the beginning of the 20th century in the Southwest must be inferred from proxy records. As part of a multidisciplinary study of the potential hydrologic impact of severe sustained drought on the Colorado River, the physical basis and limitations of tree rings as indicators of severe sustained drought are reviewed, and tree-ring data are analyzed to delineate a “worst-case� drought scenario for the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB). Runs analysis of a 121-site...
Snow covered area (SCA) observations from the Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) were used in combination with a distributed snowmelt model to estimate snow water equivalent (SWE) in the headwaters of the Rio Grande basin (3,419 km2) - a spatial scale that is an order of magnitude greater than previous reconstruction model applications. In this reconstruction approach, modeled snowmelt over each pixel is integrated over the time of ETM+ observed snow cover to estimate SWE. Considerable differences in the magnitude of SWE were simulated during the study. Basin-wide mean SWE was 2�6 times greater in April 2001 versus 2002. Despite these climatological differences, the model adequately recovered SWE at intensive...