Reconstructing Northeastern United States temperatures using Atlantic white cedar tree rings


Pearl, Jessie K.
Anchukaitis, Kevin J. Pederson
Neil and Donnelly, Jeffrey P.

Our knowledge of climate variability in the densely populated Northeastern United States is limited to instrumental data of the last century. Most regional paleoclimate proxies reflect a mix of climate responses, which makes reconstructing historical climate a challenge. Here we analyze tree-ring chronologies from Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides as a potential regional paleotemperature proxy. We evaluate our tree-ring network for spatiotemporal climate signal strength and reconstruction skill across New England. Atlantic white cedar sites in the northern section of the species' range exhibit positive significant annual growth relationships with local and regional temperatures. Chronologies constructed from northern sites yield skillful reconstructions of temperature that reproduce centennial, multidecadal, and interannual variability in the instrumental record, providing a novel paleotemperature record for New England.

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Figure 1. Map of tree-ring chronologies locations. The color of the circle reflects the Pearson correlation coefficient (r) between ring width and local average January through August temperature from the nearest grid points from the GISTEMP temperature product (Hansen et al 2010). Updated and recollected sites Appleton, ME (APB), Saco Heath, ME (SAC), and Westminster, MA (WMS) used for our reconstruction are labeled in red (Hopton and Pederson 2005). Green hatching indicates the species distribution as defined by the US Forest Service (Little 1978).

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Published 2 November 2017 • © 2017 IOP Publishing Ltd Environmental Research Letters, Volume 12, Number 11