Apr 20th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Dendrochronology and Climate Response in the Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. David Wilkins


Because they record a tree’s response to climate variables, tree rings are useful in establishing and determining climate patterns beyond what is noted in historic records. Stands of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) are present in and around the Coral Pink Sand Dunes on the Colorado Plateau in southern Utah. Cores were collected from five trees on the cliffs overlooking the dunes, and the tree-rings were counted and visually cross-dated. Patterns visible in these cores are compared to the master tree-ring chronology from nearby Jacob Lake, Arizona and the reconstructed Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) from the same region to determine if the dune field trees could be dated using the master chronology, or if a new chronology must be created. Most of the narrow rings on the cores correspond to narrow rings on the master chronology, within one or two years, suggesting a moderate regional correlation. Periods of drought (indicated by low PDSI values) in the mid- 1500s, late-1660s, and 1880s are visible as segments of decreased ring width in the dune field cores. Measurements of the cores quantify the climate response correlation between trees in the Coral Pink and the Jacob Lake areas.