Therrell, Matthew D.
Bialecki, Margaret B.

A Multi-century Tree-ring Record of Spring Flooding on the Mississippi River

Date created
Widespread destructive flooding is a common phenomenon along the Lower Mississippi River, and river managers have long sought to understand the temporal variability and relevant climatic factors of the system. One of the important drawbacks to better understanding the flood regime of this and similar large river systems is the relatively short instrumental record of flooding. In this study, we present a novel, annually-resolved tree-ring record of spring flooding based on anatomically anomalous "flood rings" preserved in trees growing about 60 km downstream of the Mississippi and Ohio River confluence. Our chronology records 39 flood-ring years between 1770 and 2009 including nearly all of the observed significant floods of the 20th century as well as severe floods documented in prior centuries. Comparison of the flood ring record with stream gage observations suggests that large-magnitude floods lasting for more than 10 days, during the spring flood season, are most likely to cause a flood ring in sampled trees. Instrumental and paleo-proxy records of atmospheric circulation features relevant to spring flooding on the Lower Mississippi were also examined. Results of this research suggest that similar flood-ring records could provide important insight into flood history elsewhere in the Mississippi River system and perhaps climate variability over North America. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Alternate Title

Volume, Page Number
529, 490-498
Related Entities
Journal of Hydrology (published by)