Journal article

Can a paleodrought record be used to reconstruct streamflow?: A case study for the Missouri River Basin

Michelle Ho, Upmanu Lall, Edward R Cook



Recent advances in paleoclimatology have revealed dramatic long-term hydroclimatic variations that provide a context for limited historical records. A notable data set derived from a relatively dense network of paleoclimate proxy records in North America is the Living Blended Drought Atlas (LBDA): a gridded tree-ring-based reconstruction of summer Palmer Drought Severity Index. This index has been used to assess North American drought frequency, persistence, and spatial extent over the past two millennia. Here, we explore whether the LBDA can be used to reconstruct annual streamflow. Relative to streamflow reconstructions that use tree rings within the river basin of interest, the use of a g..

View full abstract

University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by NSF

Awarded by Directorate For Geosciences

Awarded by Div Atmospheric & Geospace Sciences

Funding Acknowledgements

We would like to sincerely thank Ben Cook ( for providing the LBDA data, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for making their monthly streamflow data available (, staff at the USGS (Christopher Ryan and Thomas Weaver for clarifying streamflow data availability; Siyan Wang for initial data collection; Scott Steinschneider, Xun Sun, and Pierre Gentine at the Columbia Water Center for their invaluable discussions on this work; and Juan A. Ballesteros and one other anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments. Reconstruction results are available on the NOAA paleoclimate data base ( This work is funded by an NSF award 1360446 and NSF award 1401698. Lamont-Doherty contribution 8027.