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Droughts of the Canadian Prairies
Quiring, S.M. and Papakyriakou, T.N.  2005.  Characterizing the spatial and temporal variability of June-July moisture conditions in the Canadian prairies.  International Journal of Climatology 25: 117-138.

What was done
The authors used an agricultural drought index (Palmer's Z-index) to characterize the frequency, severity and spatial extent of June-July moisture anomalies for 43 crop districts from the agriculturally active region of the Canadian prairies over the period 1920-99.

What was learned
Quiring and Papkyriakou report that for the 80-year period of their study, the single most severe June-July drought on the Canadian prairies occurred in 1961, and that the next most severe droughts, in descending order of severity, occurred in 1988, 1936, 1929 and 1937, for little net overall trend.  Simultaneously, however, they say there was an upward trend in mean June-July moisture conditions.  In addition, they note that "reconstructed July moisture conditions for the Canadian prairies demonstrate that droughts during the 18th and 19th centuries were more persistent than those of the 20th century (Sauchyn and Skinner, 2001)."

What it means
Interestingly, droughts that occurred on the Canadian prairies during the Little Ice Age were worse than those that occurred during the 20th century, when climate alarmists claim mean global air temperature rose at a rate that was unprecedented over the past two millennia, which accelerated rate of warming also appeared to have little influence on drought characteristics.  These facts tend to discredit either (1) the climate-alarmist claim that droughts become more frequent and severe in response to global warming, or (2) their claim that 20th-century warming was as severe as they say it was, or (3) both of these claims.

Sauchyn, D.J. and Skinner, W.R.  2001.  A proxy record of drought severity for the southwestern Canadian plains.  Canadian Water Resources Journal 26: 253-272.

Reviewed 11 May 2005