A 1052-year tree-ring proxy for Alpine summer temperatures

Ulf Büntgen, Jan Esper, David C. Frank, Kurt Nicolussi, Martin Schmidhalter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

195 Scopus citations

Abstract

A June-August Alpine temperature proxy series is developed back to 951 using 1,527 ring-width measurements from living trees and relict wood. The reconstruction is composed of larch data from four Alpine valleys in Switzerland and pine data from the western Austrian Alps. These regions are situated in high elevation Alpine environments where a spatially homogenous summer temperature signal exists. In an attempt to capture the full frequency range of summer temperatures over the past millennium, from inter-annual to multi-centennial scales, the regional curve standardization technique is applied to the ring width measurements. Correlations of 0.65 and 0.86 after decadal smoothing, with high elevation meteorological stations since 1864 indicate an optimal response of the RCS chronology to June-August mean temperatures. The proxy record reveals warm conditions from before AD 1000 into the thirteenth century, followed by a prolonged cool period, reaching minimum values in the 1820s, and a warming trend into the twentieth century. This latter trend and the higher frequency variations compare well with the actual high elevation temperature record. The new central Alpine proxy suggests that summer temperatures during the last decade are unprecedented over the past millennium. It also reveals significant similarities at inter-decadal to multi-centennial frequencies with large-scale temperature reconstructions, however, deviating during certain periods from H.H. Lamb's European/North Atlantic temperature history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
JournalClimate Dynamics
Volume25
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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