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  1. Extreme precipitation and consequent floods are some of California's most damaging natural disasters, but they are also critical to the state's water supply. This motivates the need to better understand the long-term variability of these events across the region. This study examines the possibility of reconstructing extreme precipitation occurrences in the Sacramento River Watershed (SRW) of Northern California using a network of tree-ring based moisture proxies across the Western US. We first develop a gridded reconstruction of the cold-season standardized precipitation index (SPI) west of 100°W. We then develop an annual index of regional extreme precipitation occurrences in the SRWmore »and use elastic net regression to relate that index to the gridded, tree-ring based SPI. These regressions, built using SPI data across the SRW only and again across a broader region of the Western US, are used to develop reconstructions of interannual variability in extreme precipitation frequency back to 1400 CE. The SPI reconstruction is skillful across much of the West, including the Sacramento Valley and Central Oregon. The reconstructed SPI also captures historical interannual variations in extreme SRW precipitation, although individual events may be under- or over-estimated. The reconstructions show more SRW extremes from 1580 to 1700 and 1850 to 1915, a dearth of extremes prior to 1550, and a 2–8 year oscillation after 1550. Using tree-ring proxies beyond the SRW often dampens the reconstructed extremes, but these data occasionally help to identify known extreme events. Overall, reconstructions of SRW extreme precipitation can help to understand better the historic variability of these events.« less
  2. Abstract On 2019 August 14 at 21:10:39 UTC, the LIGO/Virgo Collaboration (LVC) detected a possible neutron star–black hole merger (NSBH), the first ever identified. An extensive search for an optical counterpart of this event, designated GW190814, was undertaken using the Dark Energy Camera on the 4 m Victor M. Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Target of Opportunity interrupts were issued on eight separate nights to observe 11 candidates using the 4.1 m Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope’s Goodman High Throughput Spectrograph in order to assess whether any of these transients was likely to be an optical counterpartmore »of the possible NSBH merger. Here, we describe the process of observing with SOAR, the analysis of our spectra, our spectroscopic typing methodology, and our resultant conclusion that none of the candidates corresponded to the gravitational wave merger event but were all instead other transients. Finally, we describe the lessons learned from this effort. Application of these lessons will be critical for a successful community spectroscopic follow-up program for LVC observing run 4 (O4) and beyond.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  3. In north-western North America, the so-called divergence problem (DP) is expressed in tree ring width (RW) as an unstable temperature signal in recent decades. Maximum latewood density (MXD), from the same region, shows minimal evidence of DP. While MXD is a superior proxy for summer temperatures, there are very few long MXD records from North America. Latewood blue intensity (LWB) measures similar wood properties as MXD, expresses a similar climate response, is much cheaper to generate and thereby could provide the means to profoundly expand the extant network of temperature sensitive tree-ring (TR) chronologies in North America. In this study,more »LWB is measured from 17 white spruce sites ( Picea glauca) in south-western Yukon to test whether LWB is immune to the temporal calibration instabilities observed in RW. A number of detrending methodologies are examined. The strongest calibration results for both RW and LWB are consistently returned using age-dependent spline (ADS) detrending within the signal-free (SF) framework. RW data calibrate best with June–July maximum temperatures (Tmax), explaining up to 28% variance, but all models fail validation and residual analysis. In comparison, LWB calibrates strongly (explaining 43–51% of May–August Tmax) and validates well. The reconstruction extends to 1337 CE, but uncertainties increase substantially before the early 17th century because of low replication. RW-, MXD- and LWB-based summer temperature reconstructions from the Gulf of Alaska, the Wrangell Mountains and Northern Alaska display good agreement at multi-decadal and higher frequencies, but the Yukon LWB reconstruction appears potentially limited in its expression of centennial-scale variation. While LWB improves dendroclimatic calibration, future work must focus on suitably preserved sub-fossil material to increase replication prior to 1650 CE.« less