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Using Blue Intensity from drought-sensitive Pinus sylvestris in Fennoscandia to improve reconstruction of past hydroclimate variability

Journal article
Authors Kristina Seftigen
Mauricio Fuentes
Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist
Jesper Björklund
Published in Climate Dynamics
ISSN 09307575
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Language en
Keywords Blue Intensity, Dendroclimatology, Drought sensitivity, Fennoscandia, Hydroclimate, Scots pine, Tree-ring
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


© 2020, The Author(s). High-resolution hydroclimate proxy records are essential for distinguishing natural hydroclimate variability from possible anthropogenically-forced changes, since instrumental precipitation observations are too short to represent the whole spectrum of natural variability. In Northern Europe, progress in this field has been hampered by a relative lack of long and truly moisture-sensitive proxy records. In this study, we provide the first assessment of the dendroclimatic potential of Blue Intensity (BI) and partial ring-width measurements (latewood and earlywood width series) from a network of cold and drought-prone Pinus sylvestris L. sites in Sweden. Our results show that all tree-ring parameters and sites share a clear and strong sensitivity to warm-season precipitation. The ΔBI parameter, in particular, shows considerable potential for hydroclimate reconstructions, here permitting a cross-validated precipitation reconstruction capable of explaining 56% (1901–2010 period) of regional-scale warm-season high-frequency precipitation variance. Using ΔBI as an alternative to ring-width improves the predictive skill with nearly a 20 percentage points increase in explained variance, reduces signal instability over time as well as allows a broader seasonal window (May–July) to be reconstructed. Additionally, we found that earlywood BI also reflect a positive late winter through early summer temperature signal. These findings emphasize that tree-rings, and in particular wood density parameters such as from BI, are capable of providing fundamental information to advance our understanding of hydroclimate variability in regions with a cool and rather humid climate regime that traditionally has been overlooked in studies of past droughts. Increasing the spatio-temporal coverage of hydroclimate records in northern Europe, and taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by the wood densitometric properties should be considered a research priority.

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