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Warmer winter climate and summer moisture availability influences tree growth in forests around the south Baltic Sea

Authors: Jill Harvey*, University of Greifswald, Germany; Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, Edmonton, Canada, Marko Smiljanić, University of Greifswald, Germany, Tobias Scharnweber, University of Greifswald, Germany, Allan Buras, TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, Germany, Anna Cedro, Szczecin University, Poland, Roberto Cruz-García, University of Greifswald, Germany, Igor Drobyshev, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden; Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Canada, Karolina Janecka, University of Greifswald, Germany, Āris Jansons, Latvian State Forest Research Institute, Latvia, Ryszard Kaczka, University of Silesia, Poland, Marcin Klisz, Forest Research Institute, Poland, Alar Läänelaid, University of Tartu, Estonia, Roberts Matisons, Latvian State Forest Research Institute, Latvia, Lena Muffler, University of Greifswald, Germany; University of Goettingen, Germany, Kristina Sohar, University of Tartu, Estonia, Barbara Spyt, University of Silesia, Poland, Juliane Stolz, TU Dresden, Germany, Ernst van der Maaten, TU Dresden, Germany, Marieke van der Maaten-Theunissen, TU Dresden, Germany, Adomas Vitas, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania, Robert Weigel, University of Greifswald, Germany; University of Goettingen, Germany, Jürgen Kreyling, University of Greifswald, Germany, Martin Wilmking, University of Greifswald, Germany
Topics: Biogeography, Paleoenvironmental Change, Global Change
Keywords: Europe, dendroecology, climate-growth relatioships, tree-ring network, climate change, beech, oak, Scots pine
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The productivity, composition and functional role of future forests in global biogeochemical cycles will depend on how different tree species respond to climate. Interpreting the response of forest growth to climate change requires an understanding of temporal and spatial patterns of seasonal climatic influences on the growth of common tree species. We constructed a network of 310 tree-ring width chronologies from three species (Quercus robur, Pinus sylvestris and Fagus sylvatica) collected for different ecological, management and climate purposes in the south Baltic Sea region. Major climate factors (temperature, precipitation, drought) affecting tree growth at monthly and seasonal scales were identified. Our analysis documents that 20th century tree growth is generally controlled by species-specific climate parameters, and summer moisture availability is increasingly important for the growth of deciduous species examined. We report changes in the influence of winter climate variables over the last decades, where a decreasing influence of late winter temperature on deciduous tree growth and an increasing influence of winter temperature on Scots pine growth was found. A descriptive application of spatial segregation analysis distinguished areas with stable responses to dominant climate parameters (northeast study region) and areas that collectively showed unstable responses to winter climate (southeast study region). The findings presented here highlight the temporally unstable and non-uniform responses of tree growth to climate variability. Considering continued climate change in the future, our results provide important regional perspectives on recent broad-scale climate–growth relationships for trees across the temperate to boreal forest transition around the south Baltic Sea.

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