Moisture stress of a hydrological year on tree growth in the Tibetan Plateau and surroundings

Keyan Fang, David Frank, Yan Zhao, Feifei Zhou, Heikki Seppä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Investigations of climate-growth interactions can shed light on the response of forest growth to climate change and the dendroclimatic reconstructions. However, most existing studies in the climatically important Tibetan Plateau (TP) and surrouding regions focus on linear growth responses to environmental variation. Herein we investigated both the linear and the nonlinear climate-growth interactions for 152 tree-ring chronologies in the TP and vicinity. We introduced the boosted regression tree (BRT) technique to study the nonlinear climate-growth relationships by pooling several sites with similar climate-growth relationships to mitigate potential biases due to the shortness of the instrumental records. Across most of the TP and surroundings, tree growth is stressed by drought. The warming induced drought has been evidenced by the strong interactions between temperature and precipitation in the BRT analyses. The drought stress on forest growth is particularly conspicuous for a hydrological year over much of the Northern TP and surroundings. The BRT analyses indicate the compensation effect of moisture prior to the growing season for the moisture deficit in the early growing season in May to July, when most of the ring-width formation occurs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034010
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Tibetan Plateau
  • boosted regression trees
  • climate change
  • drought
  • nonlinearity
  • tree ring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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