Tree-ring stable carbon isotope-based May-July temperature reconstruction over Nanwutai, China, for the past century and its record of 20th century warming

Yu Liu, Yanchao Wang, Qiang Li, Huiming Song, Hans W. Linderhlom, Steven W. Leavitt, Ruiyuan Wang, Zhisheng An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Growth anomaly of trees in some regions was detected under current episode of rapid warming. This raises a dilemma for temperature reconstructions by using tree-ring width which is believed to be the most important proxy on inter-annual temperature reconstruction during the past millenniums. Here we employed the tree-ring δ13C to reconstruct temperature variations for exploring their potential on capturing signals of rapid warming, and to test how its difference with the tree-ring width based reconstruction. In this study the mean May-July temperature (TM-J) was reconstructed over the past century by tree-ring δ13C of Chinese pine trees growing in the Nanwutai region. The explained variance of the reconstruction was 43.3% (42.1% after adjusting the degrees of freedom). Compared to a ring-width temperature reconstruction (May-July) from the same site, the tree-ring δ13C-based temperature reconstruction offered two distinct advantages: 1) it captured a wider range of temperature variability, i.e., at least May-July, even over a longer part of the year, January-September; and 2) the reconstruction preserved more low-frequency climate information than that of ring width did.The 20th century warming was well represented in the Nanwutai tree-ring δ13C temperature reconstruction, which implied that stable carbon isotope of tree rings potentially represents temperature variations during historical episodes of rapid warming. A spatial correlation analysis showed that our temperature reconstruction represented climate variations over the entire Loess Plateau in north-central China. Significant positive correlations (p<0.1) were found between the temperature reconstruction and ENSO, as well as SSTs in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The reconstruction showed the periodicities of 22.78-, 4.16-, 3.45-3.97- and 2.04-2.83-year quasi-cycles at a 95% confidence level. Our results suggested that temperature variability in the Nanwutai region may be linked to Pacific and Indian Ocean SST variations and solar activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-76
Number of pages10
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014


  • China
  • May-July mean temperature
  • Nanwutai
  • Pinus tabulaeformis Carr.
  • Reconstruction
  • Stable carbon isotope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


Dive into the research topics of 'Tree-ring stable carbon isotope-based May-July temperature reconstruction over Nanwutai, China, for the past century and its record of 20th century warming'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this