Tree-ring δ 18O in southwestern China linked to variations in regional cloud cover and tropical sea surface temperature

Xiaohong Liu, Wenling An, Kerstin Treydte, Xuemei Shao, Steven Leavitt, Shugui Hou, Tuo Chen, Weizhen Sun, Dahe Qin

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48 Scopus citations


In this paper, we present the first annual oxygen isotope (δ 18O) record (1902 to 2004) from the latewood cellulose of trees growing in a temperate-moist forest in southwestern China. Tree-ring δ 18O ranges from 12.8 to 18.6‰ and averages 15.2‰ δ 18O in the latewood negatively correlates with total cloud cover, relative humidity, and precipitation during the moist months (August to October) from 1951 to 2004 and, to a lesser extent, positively correlates with the temperature in June. Spatial correlation analysis revealed that tree-ring latewood δ 18O is more strongly related to variability in regional cloud cover and precipitation in autumn. Tree-ring δ 18O negatively correlates with the indices of the Indian summer monsoon (1948 to 2004), the western North Pacific monsoon (1948 to 2004), and with the East Asian summer monsoon (1902 to 2000), suggesting that these monsoons strongly influence the regional climate. Under global warming of last century, we found a strong inverse correlation between tree-ring δ 18O and the Southern Oscillation index in different periods, indicating a complex association between the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the regional climate, which in turn affects tree-ring δ 18O. Correlation with the global sea surface temperature (SST) indicates that climatic conditions in the Indian Ocean might play a dominant role in modulating cloud cover and precipitation over the study region during the monsoon seasons. We also found a significant correlation between tree-ring δ 18O and SST over the western-north Pacific Ocean. Our results suggest strong links between tropical oceans and an ENSO-like climate with the oxygen-isotope sources and discrimination for trees in the study region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-115
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Geology
StatePublished - Jan 6 2012


  • Abies forrestii
  • Asian monsoon
  • ENSO
  • Latewood
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Southwestern China

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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