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Comparing Approaches for Reconstructing Groundwater Levels in the Mountainous Regions of Interior British Columbia, Canada, Using Tree Ring Widths

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Observed groundwater level records are relatively short (<100 years), limiting long-term studies of groundwater variability that could provide valuable insight into climate change effects. This study uses tree ring data from the International Tree Ring Database (ITRDB) and groundwater level data from 22 provincial observation wells to evaluate different approaches for reconstructing groundwater levels from tree ring widths in the mountainous southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. The twenty-eight reconstruction models consider the selection of observation wells (e.g., regional average groundwater level vs. wells classified by recharge mechanism) and the search area for potential tree ring records (climate footprint vs. North American Ecoregions). Results show that if the climate footprint is used, reconstructions are statistically valid if the wells are grouped according to recharge mechanism, with streamflow-driven and high-elevation recharge-driven wells (both snowmelt-dominated) producing valid models. Of all the ecoregions considered, only the Coast Mountain Ecoregion models are statistically valid for both the regional average groundwater level and high-elevation recharge-driven systems. No model is statistically valid for low-elevation recharge-driven systems (rainfall-dominated). The longest models extend the groundwater level record to the year 1500, with the highest confidence in the later portions of the reconstructions going back to the year 1800.
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