Past and Present Human Response to Drought in the American West

Author(s): Douglas Kennett

Year: 2015


Multi-year droughts in the American west have major impacts on water resources and agricultural systems that sustain growing populations. Environmental engineering projects (e.g., California Aqueduct or Hoover Dam) were designed within the context of instrumental climate records and historical knowledge of the last century. Archaeological and climatological records now provide a longer-term perspective on the severity and longevity of droughts and the impact of these droughts on human populations. Paleoclimatological records for the last 2,000 years indicate that the multi-year droughts of concern today are modest compared to medieval droughts between AD 900 and 1300. Lessons embedded in the archaeological record of this interval provide context for managing water in the American west going into the future.

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Cite this Record

Past and Present Human Response to Drought in the American West. Douglas Kennett. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396556)


Geographic Keywords
North America - California

Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;