CWCB Drought and Water Supply Assessment

Chapter One

Historical Perspectives on Colorado Drought
John Henz, Seth Turner, William Badini and Jerry Kenny


Chapter 1 is an introductory chapter and provides a foundation for the rest of the report. It provides the reader with a scientific, yet accessible, understanding of drought. This chapter starts by describing drought and providing a functional definition, discussing the degrees of drought severity and how drought is quantified and its severity measured. The climate patterns associated with drought are also reviewed and analyzed. Next, an historical summary of drought in Colorado is presented, describing our knowledge of the past 300 years (with a special section on tree-ring studies), the past approximately 100 years of existing data, and the droughts of the 1930s, 1950s and 1970s. As part of the historical summary, data accuracy, confidence and length of record are reviewed. Information contained in this chapter is presented at a state and major river basin level. The chapter contains a discussion of the recent drought in Colorado (2000-2003), in context with the historical and scientific information presented. The chapter also incorporates a brief review of current drought literature and resources.

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Table of Contents | Introduction | Acknowledgements | Executive Summary
Section One Chapters 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
Section Two Chapters 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17
Appendices A | B | C | List of Acronyms | Maps | Glossary

CWCB_logoColorado Water Conservation Board


“Drought builds slowly on itself until it has a major impact on human existence. Water supplies dry up, wells run dry and crops wither.”

Excerpt, Chapter One



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