University of Nevada Professor Predicts "Megadrought" - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

University of Nevada Professor Predicts "Megadrought"

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The erratic year-to-year swing in precipitation here conjures up the word "drought" every couple of years. This year is no exception. But our most famous drought was a “megadrought” lasting from 800 to 1250 A.D., about 1,000 years ago. He says he’s identified a cycle, for a recurring, historic, devastating megadrought.

It all started with a fishing trip, at Fallen Leaf Lake south of Lake Tahoe. Dr. John Kleppe, professor emeritus at UNR, told us, "I was trolling in about a 100 feet of water at 40 feet, and hit something.” Intrigued, Dr. Kleppe sent a diver down, and made a discovery for the ages: "He came up and said ‘Yes, there's a tree rooted right under your boat…in 120 feet of water. The tree's over a 100 feet tall.’” All this time hidden, finally discovered after hundreds of years.

Looking at the pictures of the trees still standing at the bottom of Fallen Leaf Lake, Dr. Kleppe pointed to one group and said, “These died in 1215 A.D." Why do they still stand in such good condition? Kleppe told us, "I think they drowned very quickly."

It’s a small forest of about 250 submerged, pre-medieval trees, some of them standing and rooted on the floor of Fallen Leaf Lake. But the most fascinating thing about this is how they came to be. After carbon dating, it was found that they all grew at the bottom of the dry lake during a 150 to 200 year drought. Dr. Kleppe says, "After that, then the climate shifts suddenly and it rains, a lot of precipitation. And then they drowned, so then the water goes back up 150 feet."

And that's where the water level stands today. But the trees could be 'canaries in a coal mine' for us. Through working with other professors, Dr. Kleppe detected a cycle of devastating "megadroughts," which occur about every 900 years. The last one was 750 years ago. He thinks he knows what the trees are trying to tell us...that we're closer to a historic drought than we thought. As he put it, "Yes, you could be. And that means there's an urgency for localities to store water, which is the only way to mitigate."

It’s a message left from an ancient drought, discovered by a professor in Reno.

-written by John Potter

We have more on Dr. Kleppe's discovery and conclusions for you to read yourself. Just click the link below:

http://newsroom.unr.edu/2012/05/24/university-of-nevada-reno-scientists-confirm-sierra-nevada-medieval-megadroughts/

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