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Influence of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation on the climate of the Sierra Nevada, California and Nevada

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Larry Benson
U.S. Geological Survey, 3215 Marine Street, Boulder, CO 80303-1066, USA
Braddock Linsley
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, State University of New York, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222-0001, USA
Joe Smoot
U.S. Geological Survey, MS 955, Reston, VA 22090, USA
Scott Mensing
Department of Geography, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA
Steve Lund
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA
Scott Stine
California State University, Hayward, CA 94542, USA
Andre Sarna-Wojcicki
U.S. Geological Survey, MS 975, Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA


Mono Lake sediments have recorded five major oscillations in the hydrologic balance between A.D. 1700 and 1941. These oscillations can be correlated with tree-ring-based oscillations in Sierra Nevada snowpack. Comparison of a tree-ring-based reconstruction of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) index (D’Arrigo et al., 2001) with a coral-based reconstruction of Subtropical South Pacific sea-surface temperature (Linsley et al., 2000) indicates a high degree of correlation between the two records during the past 300 yr. This suggests that the PDO has been a pan-Pacific phenomena for at least the past few hundred years. Major oscillations in the hydrologic balance of the Sierra Nevada correspond to changes in the sign of the PDO with extreme droughts occurring during PDO maxima. Four droughts centered on A.D. 1710, 1770, 1850, and 1930 indicate PDO-related drought reoccurrence intervals ranging from 60 to 80 yr.

Elsevier Science (USA)

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