Multivariate Climate Field Reconstructions Using Tree Rings for the Northeastern United States

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

High-resolution paleoclimate records are essential for improving our understanding of internal variability and the detection and attribution of forced climate system responses. The densely populated northeastern United States is at risk from increasing temperatures, severe droughts, and extreme precipitation, but the region has limited annual and seasonal-resolution paleoclimate records beyond the instrumental record. Chamaecyparis thyoides, L. (B.S.P.), Atlantic white cedar, a wetland conifer found within 200 km of the Atlantic coastline of the United States, is a promising tree-ring proxy that can fill in these data gaps. Here, we develop and analyze a new network of Atlantic white cedar tree-ring chronologies across the northeastern United States and demonstrate that site selection is important for regional paleoclimate reconstructions. Ring width variability reflects winter through summer temperatures at inland and hydrologically stable sites in the northernmost section of the species' range. Ombrotrophic sites along the coast record hydrological signals and correlate with growing season precipitation. We demonstrate skillful regional climate field reconstructions for the last several centuries and show the increased skill from incorporating our moisture sensitive sites into broad-scale products like the North American Drought Atlas. This comprehensive understanding of the species' climate responses leads to a tree-ring network that provides the long-term multivariate climate context at multidecadal and centennial time scales for the large-scale ocean-atmospheric processes that influence the climate of the region. We use this network to examine the covariance of temperature and drought across the New England area over the past two centuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019JD031619
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Volume125
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 16 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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