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Distinct seasonal climate drivers revealed in a network of tree-ring records from Labrador, Canada


Traditionally, high-latitude dendroclimatic studies have focused on measurements of total ring width (RW), with the maximum density of the latewood (MXD) serving as a complementary variable. Whilst MXD has typically improved the strength of the growing season climate connection over that of RW, its measurements are costly and time-consuming. Recently, a less costly and more time-efficient technique to extract density measurements has emerged, based on lignin’s propensity to absorb blue light. This Blue Intensity (BI) methodology is based on image analyses of finely-sanded core samples, and the relative ease with which density measurements can be extracted allows for significant increases in spatio-temporal sample depth. While some studies have attempted to combine RW and MXD as predictors for summer temperature reconstructions, here we evaluate a systematic comparison of the climate signal for RW and latewood BI (LWBI) separately, using a recently updated and expanded tree ring database for Labrador, Canada. We demonstrate that while RW responds primarily to climatic drivers earlier in the growing season (January–April), LWBI is more responsive to climate conditions during late spring and summer (May–August). Furthermore, RW appears to be driven primarily by large-scale atmospheric dynamics associated with the Pacific North American pattern, whilst LWBI is more closely associated with local climate conditions, themselves linked to the behaviour of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Lastly, we demonstrate that anomalously wide or narrow growth rings consistently respond to the same climate drivers as average growth years, whereas the sensitivity of LWBI to extreme climate conditions appears to be enhanced.

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Observational and reanalysis products were provided by NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, through their website http://www.cdc.noaa.gov, and NERC/NCAS, UK, through the website https://crudata.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/hrg/. In particular, use of the following data sets is gratefully acknowledged: NOAA ERSST v4; 20CR Project supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment program, and Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and by the NOAA Climate Program Office; NCEP-CFSR data developed by NOAA’s NCEP and provided through the Research Data Archive, which is maintained by the Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL) at NCAR, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF); CRU TS3 v.22 dataset supported by NERC. An index for the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation was provided by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Climate Data Guide, whilst the Pacific North American and North Atlantic Oscillation indices were provided by the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. The authors wish to thank our colleagues and friends in Labrador, in particular Henry, Ches and Joe Webb, for their tireless assistance in our field sampling expeditions. This research was supported by NSF through AGS-1602009. The helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers in improving this manuscript are acknowledged.

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Parfitt, R., Ummenhofer, C.C., Buckley, B.M. et al. Distinct seasonal climate drivers revealed in a network of tree-ring records from Labrador, Canada. Clim Dyn 54, 1897–1911 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-019-05092-6

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