The interior of Canada is a drought-prone region that is reliant on grain and livestock production. The region is characterized by large changes in seasonal temperatures (~35.6C) and relatively low rainfall (36.4cm/yr). Little is known about the past temperatures in this region before the human instrumental measurements that go back about 100 years. However, sustained droughts, such as the Dust Bowl Drought during the 1930s that left crops destroyed and witnessed farming income losses >$300 million (USD) have occurred historically. Contrary to the typical summer dry season that occurs annually here, the driest part of the Dust Bowl Drought (1936 AD) experienced one of the coldest years on record. The global climate mechanism for this and other major droughts (i.e., 1978 and 1996 AD) are still not fully understood.
The aim of this project is to focus on the past 1500 years of geologic history to characterize known climatic events such as the Medieval Warm Period (~900-1200 AD), the Little Ice Age (~1500-1800 AD), and the Dust Bowl Drought (1930’s AD) and determine the links between these events and to global climate drivers.
Present: PhD: “Palaeotemperature Change in the Drought-prone Prairie” Supervisors: Dr Jaime Toney, Professor Deborah Dixon
Active research projects: