Changes in surface solar radiation in Northeastern Spain over the past six centuries recorded by tree-ring δ13C
Although solar radiation at the surface plays a determinant role in carbon discrimination in tree rings, stable carbon isotope chronologies (δ13C) have often been interpreted as a temperature proxy due to the co-variability of temperature and surface solar radiation. Furthermore, even when surface solar radiation is assumed to be the main driver of 13C discrimination in tree rings, δ13C records have been calibrated against sunshine duration or cloud cover series for which longer observational records exists. In this study, we use different instrumental and satellite data over northeast Spain (southern Europe) to identify the main driver of tree-ring 13C discrimination in this region. Special attention is paid to periods in which the co-variability of those climate variables may have been weaker, such as years after large volcanic eruptions. The analysis identified surface solar radiation as the main driver of tree-ring δ13C changes in this region, although the influence of other climatic factors may not be negligible. Accordingly, we suggest that a reconstruction of SSR over the last 600 years is possible. The relation between multidecadal variations of an independent temperature reconstruction and surface solar radiation in this region shows no clear sign, and warmer (colder) periods may be accompanied by both higher and lower surface solar radiation. However, our reconstructed records of surface solar radiation reveals a sunnier Little Ice Age in agreement with other δ13C tree-ring series used to reconstruct sunshine duration in central and northern Europe.