The sensitivity of tree growth to air mass variability and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation in coastal Alabama
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- Senkbeil, J.C., Rodgers, J.C. & Sheridan, S.C. Int J Biometeorol (2007) 51: 483. doi:10.1007/s00484-007-0087-6
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This study investigates the relationship between tree growth and air mass type variability, using the spatial synoptic classification (SSC) in a bottomland slash pine forest in coastal Alabama (USA). The use of an air mass approach in dendroclimatology is somewhat unconventional and has not been fully explored. However, we believe that it may be useful because the air mass approach represents a holistic and comprehensive measure of surface conditions. Cores from 36 slash pines (Pinus elliotti) were extracted and ring widths were measured to the nearest 0.01 mm. The cores were then cross-dated and a standardized ring index series was established. Relationships were explored between the index series and several climate variables and teleconnections. The index series showed significant relationships with SSC air mass types and SSC air mass ratios, but insignificant results with teleconnections. Specifically the Dry Tropical air mass type was negatively correlated with tree growth while Moist Moderate was positively correlated. Concomitantly, Dry Tropical : Moist Moderate, Dry Tropical : Moist Tropical, and Dry Moderate : Moist Moderate air mass ratios also showed negative correlations. Positive Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) sea surface temperatures were also associated with significant moisture and air mass variability in the region, although the PDO did not have a significant relationship with tree growth. The significance between SSC air mass variability and tree growth in the humid subtropical climate of coastal Alabama has favorable implications for dendroclimatological research in drier environments where trees are more sensitive to climatic variables.