Climatic Change

, Volume 96, Issue 1–2, pp 185–201 | Cite as

Site-aspect influence on climate sensitivity over time of a high-altitude Pinus cembra tree-ring network

  • Giovanni Leonelli
  • Manuela Pelfini
  • Giovanna Battipaglia
  • Paolo Cherubini


Recently a divergence between tree-ring parameters from temperature-limited environments and temperature records has been observed worldwide but comprehensive explanations are still lacking. From a dendroclimatic analysis performed on a high-altitude tree-ring network of Pinus cembra (L.) in the Central Italian Alps we found that site aspect influences non-stationary growth-climate relationships over time. A general increasing divergence between ring width and the summer temperature record (J–A) has been observed especially for chronologies from SW-facing slopes, whereas chronologies from N-facing sites showed stable relationships over time. The monthly analysis revealed that the decrease in sensitivity was mostly accounted for by the changes in the relationships with June temperature (decreasing correlations especially for S- and W-facing site chronologies), whereas trees from N-facing sites showed an increasing sensitivity to July temperatures. Our data suggest that at high altitudes, low temperatures at the beginning of the growing season no longer limit growth. We also found that our temperature-sensitive trees did not linearly respond in radial growth to the extreme heat event of summer 2003, and formed an annual ring of average width, resulting in a strong divergence from the temperature record. Our findings underline the importance of site ecology for tree-ring based climate reconstructions using temperature-sensitive ring-width chronologies, and may help in solving the ‘divergence problem’.


Slope Aspect July Temperature Residual Chronology June Temperature Pinus Cembra 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Leonelli
    • 1
  • Manuela Pelfini
    • 1
  • Giovanna Battipaglia
    • 2
  • Paolo Cherubini
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of MilanMilanItaly
  2. 2.WSL Swiss Federal Research InstituteDendro SciencesBirmensdorfSwitzerland

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