, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 61-69

The importance of early summer temperature and date of snow melt for tree growth in the Siberian Subarctic

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Abstract.

Wood material for at least 12 larch trees at six sites [Larix sibirica Ldb, Larix gmelinii (Rupr.) Rupr, Larix cajanderi Mayr] near the northern timberline in Siberia was analyzed to investigate influence of climatic factor changes on tree-ring growth at high latitudes. Tree-ring cell size, maximum latewood density and ring width measured by means of image analysis and X-ray radiodensitometry and calculated latewood cell-wall thickness were used. Correlation analysis of tree-ring structure parameter chronologies with temperatures averaged over periods of 5 days (pentad) shows that early summer temperature (mean for 5–6 pentads, depending on the region, starting from the middle of June) and date of snow melt are the most important factors that define seasonal growth and tree-ring structure. Analysis of instrumental climatic data indicates that a positive trend of early summer temperature was combined with winter precipitation (October–April) increase and this combination leads to later snow melt. Based of the results of tree-ring growth modelling, it was shown that later snow melt (hence, delayed initiation of cambial activity and, as a result, decrease of wood production) explains the changes in the relationship between tree ring width and summer temperature dynamics observed after the 1960s for a large area of the Siberian Subarctic. The understanding of the role of winter precipitation in controlling ring growth, through its effect on the timing of cambial activation, suggests the possibility of using ring structure parameters to create reconstructions of past winter precipitation variations.

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