Climate extremes and tree rings in California

Authors: Daniel Griffin*, University of Minnesota - Department of Geography & Center for Dendrochronology, Jacob Arndt, University of Minnesota - Department of Geography & Center for Dendrochronology, Matthew Trumper, University of Minnesota - Department of Geography & Center for Dendrochronology, Erica Bigio, University of Arizona
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Paleoenvironmental Change, Physical Geography
Keywords: climate change, drought, dendrochronology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom C, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Climate extremes are occurring with increasing temporal frequency and are emerging as a quintessential form of climate change evidence in the so-called Anthropocene. This phenomenon has been epitomized in California, where recent years of drought and wetness have expanded the statistical bounds of variability evident in instrumental records of hydroclimate. Previous dendroclimatic analyses indicate that this drought has been, by some metrics, exceptional in the context of the last millennium. However, only one of the recently published studies is known to have incorporated up-to-date tree-ring records. Others have relied on data developed fifteen or more years ago with a substitution of instrumental data for the critical period of recent interest. Here, we summarize our group’s effort to update a subset of the most relevant moisture-sensitive tree-ring records from drought-stricken central California. We present a systematic characterization of climate relationships inherent to our blue oak (Quercus douglasii) and big cone Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa) data, with an emphasis on diagnosing the magnitude and temporal stability of cool-season precipitation and warm-season temperature as relative influences on tree-ring earlywood and latewood width. These new chronologies are then used to provide long-term context for the recent "hot drought" event and to make inference about the relative role of temperature during important drought events of the last five centuries.

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