Decadal Drought and Wetness Reconstructed for Subtropical North America in the Mexican Drought Atlas

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 8:45 AM
Dorian J Burnette, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, United States, David W Stahle, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, United States, Edward R Cook, Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY, United States, Jose Villanueva-Diaz, Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Laboratorio de Dendrocronologia, Gómez Palacio, Mexico, Daniel Griffin, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, United States and Benjamin Cook, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, United States
A new drought atlas has been developed for subtropical North America, including the entire Republic of Mexico. This Mexican Drought Atlas (MXDA) is based on 251 tree-ring chronologies, including 82 from Mexico and another 169 from the southern U.S. and western Guatemala. Point-by-point principal components regression was used to reconstruct the self-calibrating Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) for June-August. Calibration and verification statistics were improved over what was previously possible with the North American Drought Atlas, which was based on fewer chronologies only in Mexico. The MXDA will be served on the web with analytical tools for composite, correlation, and congruence analyses. The new PDSI reconstructions provide a more detailed estimation of decadal moisture regimes over the past 2000 years, but are most robust after 1400 AD, when several chronologies are available across Mexico. Droughts previously identified in a subset of chronologies are confirmed and their spatial impact quantified in the new reconstructions. This includes the intense drought of the mid-15th Century described in Aztec legend, the 16th Century megadrought, and “El Año del Hambre”, one of the worst famines in Mexican history. We also use the best replicated portion of the MXDA in the 18th and 19th Centuries to reconstruct moisture anomalies during key time periods of Mexican turmoil (e.g., the Mexican War of Independence).