Prospects for dendroanatomy in paleoclimatology - a case study on Picea engelmannii from the Canadian Rockies

Kristina Seftigen*, Marina V. Fonti, Brian Luckman, Miloš Rydval, Petter Stridbeck, Georg Von Arx, Rob Wilson, Jesper Björklund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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The continuous development of new proxies as well as a refinement of existing tools are key to advances in paleoclimate research and improvements in the accuracy of existing climate reconstructions. Herein, we build on recent methodological progress in dendroanatomy, the analyses of wood anatomical parameters in dated tree rings, and introduce the longest (1585-2014CE) dendroanatomical dataset currently developed for North America. We explore the potential of dendroanatomy of high-elevation Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) as a proxy of past temperatures by measuring anatomical cell dimensions of 15 living trees from the Columbia Icefield area. X-ray maximum latewood density (MXD) and its blue intensity counterpart (MXBI) have previously been measured, allowing comparison between the different parameters. Our findings highlight anatomical MXD and maximum radial cell wall thickness as the two most promising wood anatomical proxy parameters for past temperatures, each explaining 46% and 49%, respectively, of detrended instrumental July-August maximum temperatures over the 1901-1994 period. While both parameters display comparable climatic imprinting at higher frequencies to X-ray derived MXD, the anatomical dataset distinguishes itself from its predecessors by providing the most temporally stable warm season temperature signal. Further studies, including samples from more diverse age cohorts and the adaptation of the regional curve standardization method, are needed to disentangle the ontogenetic and climatic components of long-term signals stored in the wood anatomical traits and to more comprehensively evaluate the potential contribution of this new dataset to paleoclimate research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1151-1168
Number of pages18
JournalClimate of the Past
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2022


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