, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 99–110 | Cite as

Growth/climate response shift in a long subalpine spruce chronology

  • Ulf Büntgen
  • David C. Frank
  • Martin Schmidhalter
  • Burkhard Neuwirth
  • Mathias Seifert
  • Jan Esper
Original Article


A new Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) tree-ring width chronology based on living and historic wood spanning the AD 1108–2003 period is developed. This composite record combines 208 high elevation samples from 3 Swiss subalpine valleys, i.e., Lötschental, Goms, and Engadine. To retain potential high- to low-frequency information in this dataset, individual spline detrending and the regional curve standardization are applied. For comparison, 22 high elevation and 6 low-elevation instrumental station records covering the greater Alpine area are used. Previous year August–September precipitation and current year May–July temperatures control spruce ring width back to ∼1930. Decreasing (increasing) moving correlations with monthly mean temperatures (precipitation) indicate instable growth/climate response during the 1760–2002 period. Crucial June–August temperatures before ∼1900 shift towards May-July temperature plus August precipitation sensitivity after ∼1900. Numerous of comparable subalpine spruce chronologies confirm increased late-summer drought stress, coincidently with the recent warming trend. Comparison with regional-, and large-scale millennial-long temperature reconstructions reveal significant similarities prior to ∼1900 (1300–1900 mean r=0.51); however, this study does not fully capture the commonly reported 20th century warming (1900–1980 mean r=−0.17). Due to instable growth/climate response of the new spruce chronology, further dendroclimatic reconstruction is not performed.


Alps Dendroclimatology Growth/climate response High–low frequency Standardization 



We thank R. Böhm for providing instrumental data, the ITRDB contributors for tree-ring data, and K. Treydte and R.J.S. Wilson for comments and discussion. Supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation Project EURO-TRANS (#200021-105663) and the European Union Project ALP-IMP (BBW #01.0498-1).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulf Büntgen
    • 1
  • David C. Frank
    • 1
  • Martin Schmidhalter
    • 2
  • Burkhard Neuwirth
    • 3
  • Mathias Seifert
    • 4
  • Jan Esper
    • 1
  1. 1.Swiss Federal Research Institute WSLBirmensdorfSwitzerland
  2. 2.Dendrolabor ValaisBrigSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity BonnBonnGermany
  4. 4.Department of Archaeology GraubündenSchloss HaldensteinHaldensteinSwitzerland

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