"Park Williams remembers the forest when he visited Mesa Verde more than two decades ago as an inquisitive third-grader on a family vacation. 'Back then, it was wet and green,' the 31-year-old scientist recalled."
"Leaning over a data-strewn laptop, Williams pointed to the 1980s on a graph of Southwestern climate. 'Since then, we've found it was probably the wettest decade in a thousand years,' he said.
It was a very different story when a grown-up Williams, with a newly minted Ph.D. and a curiosity about how forests respond to a changing climate, arrived at Los Alamos National Laboratory in April 2011. It was the heart of the hot drought that fueled the devastating Las Conchas forest fire. After the wet spell of the '80s, the forests around his new home were suffering a remarkable flip in the region's climate, drought conditions rarely seen in the last thousand years."