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Coherent region-, species-, and frequency-dependent local climate signals in Northern Hemisphere tree-ring widths
Wettstein, J.J., J.S. Littell, Z.M. Gedalof, and J.M. Wallace. 2011. Coherent region-, species-, and frequency-dependent local climate signals in Northern Hemisphere tree-ring widths. Journal of Climate 24, 5998-6012, doi: 10.1175/2011JCLI3822.1.
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Patterns of correlation between tree rings and local temperature or precipitation are investigated using 762 International Tree-Ring Data Bank standardized ring width site chronology time series, and a gridded dataset of temperature and precipitation. Coherent regional- and, in some cases, hemispheric-scale patterns of correlation are found in the extratropical Northern Hemisphere for both the summer prior to and the summer concurrent with ring width formation across different species and over large distances.
Among those chronologies that are primarily linked to temperature, thicker ring widths are generally associated with anomalously cool prior summer temperature and anomalously warm concurrent summer temperature. Reconstructions of local summer temperature using prior, concurrent, and/or subsequent year ring widths as predictors demonstrate that useful climate-growth information generally exists in ring widths that are both concurrent with and subsequent to the summer temperature anomaly. Consistent prior summer temperature-ring width relationships have received relatively little previous attention.
Among those chronologies that are primarily linked to precipitation, thicker ring widths are generally associated with high summer precipitation in both the year prior to and the year concurrent with ring formation. The magnitude and spatial consistency of temperature correlations are greater than those for precipitation, at least on the hemispheric scale. These results support and serve to generalize the conclusions of prior regionally restricted and/or species-specific studies relating ring width to energy and/or water limitations.
Regional- and hemispheric-scale patterns of ring width-temperature or ring width-precipitation correlations show up more clearly in species-specific and frequency-dependent analyses. Different species respond differently to temperature and precipitation anomalies. Consistent with the hemispheric patterns described above, most standardized ring width time series more faithfully record the high frequency component of the temperature signal than the low frequency component. The potential for enhanced coherence in regionally restricted, species-specific, and frequency-dependent analyses is independently verified by examining the correlation between ring width time series over geographical distance. This broader characterization of relationships between tree-ring widths and local climate provides an objective basis for selecting tree ring or other similarly high-resolution proxy data for regional-, hemispheric-, or global-scale paleoclimate reconstructions.