Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Tree Rings Show Drought Patterns.(Final)

Byline: John Fleck Journal Staff Writer

* Southwest's wet, dry cycles tracked through history

The dark bands of tree rings on the slab of pinon in Lou Scuderi's lab tell the story.

During wet times, the wood is light tan. Dark brown bands mark the dry times. Over the last thousand years, the wood cycles over and over light and dark, between wet spells and deep drought.

"What does drought look like?" asked Scuderi, a University of New Mexico tree ring researcher, pointing to dark bands showing the years during the 1500s when the rains went away. "That's what drought looks like."

Much of what we know about the Southwest's endlessly repeating wet and dry cycles comes from researchers like Scuderi and his predecessors, who use tree rings like ancient rain gauges to understand the past. …

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