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  1. Across the Upper Missouri River Basin, the recent drought of 2000 to 2010, known as the “turn-of-the-century drought,” was likely more severe than any in the instrumental record including the Dust Bowl drought. However, until now, adequate proxy records needed to better understand this event with regard to long-term variability have been lacking. Here we examine 1,200 y of streamflow from a network of 17 new tree-ring–based reconstructions for gages across the upper Missouri basin and an independent reconstruction of warm-season regional temperature in order to place the recent drought in a long-term climate context. We find that temperature has increasingly influenced the severity of drought events by decreasing runoff efficiency in the basin since the late 20th century (1980s) onward. The occurrence of extreme heat, higher evapotranspiration, and associated low-flow conditions across the basin has increased substantially over the 20th and 21st centuries, and recent warming aligns with increasing drought severities that rival or exceed any estimated over the last 12 centuries. Future warming is anticipated to cause increasingly severe droughts by enhancing water deficits that could prove challenging for water management. 
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  2. Abstract

    To characterize eruption activity of the iconic Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park over past centuries, we obtained 41 new radiocarbon dates of mineralized wood preserved in the mound of silica that precipitated from erupted waters. Trees do not grow on active geyser mounds, implying that trees grew on the Old Faithful Geyser mound during a protracted period of eruption quiescence. Rooted stumps and root crowns located on higher parts of the mound are evidence that at the time of tree growth, the geyser mound closely resembled its current appearance. The range of calibrated radiocarbon dates (1233–1362 CE) is coincident with a series of severe multidecadal regional droughts toward the end of the Medieval Climate Anomaly, prior to the onset of the Little Ice Age. Climate models project increasingly severe droughts by mid‐21st century, suggesting that geyser eruptions could become less frequent or completely cease.

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  3. Abstract

    Catchment hydrometeorology and the organization of shallow subsurface flow are key drivers of active contributing areas and streamflow generation. However, understanding how the climatic water balance and complex topography contribute to these processes from hillslope to catchment scales remains difficult. We compared time series of vapor pressure deficits and soil moisture to the climatic water balance and topographic variables across six zero‐order catchments in the Lubrecht Experimental Forest (Montana, USA). We then evaluated how local hydrometeorology (volumetric water content and atmospheric vapor pressure deficit) affected the spatial occurrence of shallow subsurface flow. Generalized linear mixed model analysis revealed significant, temporally stable (monthly and seasonal average) patterns of hydrometeorology that can be predicted by the topographic wetness index and the dynamic climatic water deficit (CWD = potential evapotranspiration − actual evapotranspiration). Intracatchment patterns were significantly correlated to the topographic wetness index, while intercatchment patterns were correlated to spatiotemporal variance in the CWD during each time period. Spatial patterns of shallow subsurface flow were related to the hydrometeorological conditions of the site. We observed persistent shallow subsurface flow in convergent hillslope positions, except when a catchment was positioned in locations with high CWDs (low elevations and southerly aspects). Alternatively, we observed persistent subsurface flow across all hillslope positions (even 70‐m upslope from the hollow) when catchments were positioned in locations with especially low CWDs (northerly aspects and high elevations). These results highlight the importance of considering the superposition of the catchment‐scale climatic water balance and hillslope‐scale topography when characterizing hydrometeorology and shallow subsurface flow dynamics.

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