An annually resolved bristlecone pine carbon isotope chronology for the last millennium

Roderick J. Bale, Iain Robertson, Matthew W. Salzer, Neil J. Loader, Steven W. Leavitt, Mary Gagen, Thomas P. Harlan, Danny McCarroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


We present the first near millennium-length, annually resolved stable isotope record from bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva, D.K Bailey). The carbon isotope ratios from the cellulose of seven trees from the White Mountains of California, corrected for anthropogenic changes in atmospheric chemistry, are used to reconstruct growing season (June through August) precipitation back to AD 1085. Extremely negative isotope results are strongly correlated with proposed severest El Niño events over the last 500yr, and similar values in the first half of the millennium are used to reconstruct a further 13 strong El Niño events, concentrated in the 12th Century and the mid 13th and 14th Centuries. Ring-width chronologies from adjacent sites in the White Mountains demonstrate a high degree of decadal covariance with the δ13C series, although there are several periods of notable divergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-29
Number of pages8
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Bristlecone pine
  • Carbon isotopes
  • Climate change
  • Dendroclimatology
  • Drought
  • El Niño
  • Palaeoclimate
  • Precipitation
  • Tree rings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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