Paper Published on Geologic Record of Droughts

A paper entitled "A 10,000 Year Record of Dune Activity, Dust Storms, and Severe Drought in the Central Great Plains" by an ISGS geologist and geologists from the University of Wisconsin and University of Nebraska was published in the February 2007 issue of Geology. This paper, by applying Optically Stimulated Luminescence dating on dune sand and loess deposits in the central Great Plains, gives new information on the timing and causal mechanism of severe droughts during Holocene. Dune fields and loess deposits of the Great Plains of North America contain stratigraphic records of eolian activity that can be used to extend the short observational record of drought. This paper presents a 10,000 year reconstruction of dune activity and dust production in the central Great Plains Region based on 95 optically stimulated luminescence ages. Clusters of ages define episodes of extensive high winds, which were interpreted as a response to frequent severe drought, at 1,000 to 700 years ago and 2,300 to 4,500 years ago (with peaks centered on 2,500 and 3,800); sustained windy periods also occurred from 9,600 to 6,500 years ago. Parts of this record may be consistent with hypotheses linking Holocene drought to sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific or Atlantic oceans, or to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon. 

Nebraska sand dunes
This paper has already received wider recognition. It was reported upon by Science News in the February 10th issue with the title of "Why So Dry? Ocean temperatures alone don't explain droughts." It also made the February 1st issue of The Christian Science Monitor under the title of "A Clearer Global Climate Forecast."