Climatic Changes in the East-European Forest-Steppe and Effects on Scots Pine Productivity
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Climate change during the 20th and early 21st centuries in the transitional zone between forests and grasslands at the center of the East-European Plain (Voronezh oblast) was determined by examining climate trends and variability using tree ring radial increment data as representative of productivity. An increase in atmospheric moisture for the warm period of the year (May–September) since 1890s, and mean annual temperatures since the 1950s was identified. During the same time period, there was a marked increase in amplitude of the annual variations for temperature and precipitation. Study results revealed trends, variability in the climatic indices, and corresponding radial wood increment for the regional stands of Pinus sylvestris L. These fluctuations are consistent with 10–12-years Schwabe–Wolf, 22-years Hale, and the 32–36-years Bruckner Solar Cycles. There was an additional relationship found between high-frequency (short-period) climate fluctuations, lasting for about three years, and 70–90-years fluctuations of the moisture regime in the study region corresponding to longer cycles. The results of this study can help guide management decisions in the study region and elsewhere, especially where climate change induced alterations to the state and productivity of forest ecosystems and associated natural resource commodities are of growing concern.