Sauchyn Beaudoin-1998-Recent environmental change in the Southern Canadian Plains

This paper examines 20th-century environmental change in the subhumid southwestern Canadian Plains, specifically in relation to the dominant agricultural landscape and to the climate of the past millennium as reconstructed from proxy data. Anthropogenic landscape change in the last century has been dominated by the conversion of grasslands to ranchland and cropland. This has heightened landscape vulnerability to climatic fluctuations, especially drought. Instrumental climate
records, extending back to the 7 880s, highlight the variability of precipitation in this region. Proxy environmental records, derived from lake cores and tree-ring analysis, extend this picture into the last millennium and show that drought has been a recurring theme of the Prairie
climate. Tree-ring records suggest that some droughts in the last millennium may have exceeded in severity any in the instrumental record. The sustainability of Prairie agriculture depends on adaptation to the amplitudes of climatic change and variability evident in these proxy records.