My Way of Thinking: Drought is major topic of interest
The University of Missouri tree ring lab has weather data based on tree rings for the past 1,000 years. Most of this dating has come from trees that have been buried for hundreds and thousands of years and were recently uncovered along river beds. Carbon dating and matching trees of overlapping years of growth allows identifying trees thousands of years old. One oak tree in Missouri was determined to be 13,870 years old, and well-preserved 23,000 year-old oaks are common in the U.S.
Related to drought, Stambaugh said, “There is a 20-year dominant cycle in drought” as observed through the 1,000-year data of tree-ring study.
And drought can be much more than one or two years. Long-term decade droughts have occurred where the precipitation levels ranged from severely low to an outlier normal year. The last long-term drought, according to tree rings in the Missouri region of the country, occurred from 1909 to 1938—the Dust Bowl years. The longest drought period in the past 1,000 years was from 1148 to 1208, Stambaugh said.
Are we headed into one of those long-term drought periods? No one knows, but it is something in the back of the mind of climatologists and others that study weather patterns.