The Dust Bowl was not a unique event in the history of the American West, according to a study appearing in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association. Many of the worst droughts occurred in the 15th and 16th centuries, and the climate was most stable in the 20th century, the study found. Researchers -- including lead author Matthew Bekker, an environmental geographer at Brigham Young University -- used tree-ring analysis to reach their conclusions.

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