The South Asian Monsoon and mid-latitude Westerlies are two important controls on Tibetan Plateau (TP) fresh water resources. Understanding their interaction requires long-term information on spatial patterns in moisture variability on the TP. Here we develop a network of 23 moisture-sensitive tree-ring chronologies from major juniper forests in a north–south transect on the eastern TP. Over the past five and a half centuries, we find that these chronologies cluster into two groups, North and South, of ∼33° N. Southern and northern regional chronology subsets are positively and significantly correlated with May–June Palmer Drought Severity Indices (PDSI). The meridional moisture stress gradient reconstructed from these data suggests substantial stochastic variation, yet persistent moisture stress differences are observed between 1463–1502 CE and 1693–1734 CE. Identification of these patterns provides clues linking them with forced or intrinsic tropical–extratropical interactions and thus facilitates studies of interannual–decadal dipole variations in hydroclimate over the TP.
It is generally expected that inter-annual changes in radial growth among trees would be similar to the increase in altitude due to the limitation of increasingly harsher climatic factors. Here, we examine whether this pattern exists in alpine forests on the southeastern Tibetan Plateau. Increment cores were collected from mature trees at the lower, middle and upper limits of balfour spruce (Picea likiangensis var. balfouriana (Rehd. et Wils.) Hillier ex Slsvin) forests at the Buze and Yela Mountains in Basu County, Changdu Prefecture of Tibet, China. The treeline elevations are 4320 m and 4510 m a.s.l. for Buze and Yela, respectively. Tree-ring widths were measured, crossdated, and detrended to obtain a sequence of ring-width indices for each individual sample. Annual growth rate, climate sensitivity, growth-climate relationships, and growth synchrony among trees were calculated and compared across altitudes. In Buze Mountain, the annual growth rate of trees has no significant difference across altitudes. The mean sensitivity of trees is lower at the treelines than at lower elevations. Tree growth has stronger correlation with winter temperature at upper elevations than at lower elevations, has significant correlation with moisture, not temperature, in the growing season, and the growth response to moisture is lower at the treeline than at lower elevations. The correlation among individual tree-ring sequences is lower at the treeline than at sites at lower elevation. In Yela Mountain, the characterisitics of annual growth rate, mean sensitivity, tree growth-climate relationships, and inter-serial correlation are similar to those in Buze, but their differences along altitudinal gradients are less significant as those in Buze. Our data do not support the general expectation of growth convergence among individuals with increasing altitude. We conclude that individual heterogeneity and microhabitat diversity are important features for treeline trees that may dampen the growth synchrony in trees. The results obtained in this study expand our knowledge about the pattern of forest growth along altitudinal gradients in high-elevation regions and demonstrate the importance of checking the growth of tree individuals before analyzing the average signal.
Abstract. Latitudinal and altitudinal gradients can be utilized to forecast the impact of climate change on forests. To improve the understanding of how these gradients impact forest dynamics, we tested two hypotheses: (1) the change of the tree growth-climate relationship is similar along both latitudinal and altitudinal gradients, and (2) the time periods during which climate affects growth the most occur later towards higher latitudes and altitudes. To address this, we utilized tree-ring data from a latitudinal gradient in Finland and from two altitudinal gradients on the Tibetan Plateau. We analysed the latitudinal and altitudinal growth patterns in tree rings and investigated the growth-climate relationship of trees by correlating ring-width index chronologies with climate variables, calculating with flexible time windows, and using daily-resolution climate data. High latitude and altitude plots showed higher correlations between tree-ring chronologies and growing season temperature. However, the effects of winter temperature showed contrasting patterns for the gradients. The timing of the highest correlation with temperatures during the growing season at southern sites was approximately 1 month ahead of that at northern sites in the latitudinal gradient. In one out of two altitudinal gradients, the timing for the strongest negative correlation with temperature at low-altitude sites was ahead of treeline sites during the growing season, possibly due to differences in moisture limitation. Mean values and the standard deviation of treering width increased with increasing mean July temperatures on both types of gradients. Our results showed similarities of tree growth responses to increasing seasonal temperature between latitudinal and altitudinal gradients. However, differences in climate-growth relationships were also found between gradients due to differences in other factors such as moisture conditions. Changes in the timing of the most critical climate variables demonstrated the necessity for the use of daily-resolution climate data in environmental gradient studies.
scite is a Brooklyn-based startup that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.