Temperature reconstructions from tree rings: state-of-the-art, challenges, and opportunities

Authors: Kevin Anchukaitis*, University of Arizona - Geography & Development
Topics: Paleoenvironmental Change, Climatology and Meteorology, Biogeography
Keywords: dendrochronology, dendroclimatology, tree-ring, climate, paleoclimate, temperature
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 30
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Earth's climate history reflects a combination of forced changes, feedbacks, and internal climate system variability. Long-term high-resolution paleoclimate reconstructions provide unique insights into the characteristics and causes of past temperature variability, allow fingerprinting of the contribution from radiative forcing, and provide out-of-sample tests for climate models. Independently developed tree-ring temperature reconstructions can also be used to understand the links between hydroclimate and radiative forcing. However, such reconstructions depend first and foremost on the availability of a widespread network of long temperature-sensitive tree-ring chronologies and are sensitive to the statistical methods used to estimate past temperature. Here, I show that the location, time span, and type of temperature-sensitive tree-ring data have a strong control on the spatiotemporal extent of skill in estimating past temperatures and highlight where the current proxy network limits current reconstruction efforts. Examples from a diverse set of statistical methods emphasize the critical importance of wood density chronologies spanning the complete Common Era. These observations are used to suggest optimal collection priorities for continued advancement of high resolution late Holocene paleotemperature reconstruction.

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