SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Ever wondered how the state’s current drought compares to droughts throughout history?

The answer, water experts say, can be found in tree rings.

“How much drought have we had in the last 500 or 600 years?” said Darren Hess, Assistant General Manager at Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

It’s a question that researchers from Utah State University and Brigham Young University explored by examining tree rings.

“A tree grows more when there’s water, it grows less when there’s not. Sometimes in a drought, a tree won’t grow hardly at all to preserve its resources. And so we looked back in history to find that in the 1630s there was a really dry period for about eight to 10 years,” said Hess.

The measurements are for water levels in natural mountain reservoirs. The current drought isn’t as bad as the 1630s, said Hess, but is nearly comparable to the Dust Bowl era during the 1930’s.