400 years of summer hydroclimate from stable isotopes in Iberian trees

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Andreu-Hayles, Laia
Ummenhofer, Caroline C.
Barriendos, Mariano
Schleser, Gerhard H.
Helle, Gerhard
Leuenberger, Markus
Gutierrez, Emilia
Cook, Edward R.
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Tree rings
Extreme analyses
Atmospheric circulation
Sea Level Pressure (SLP)
Old World Drought Atlas (OWDA)
Iberian Peninsula
Tree rings are natural archives that annually record distinct types of past climate variability depending on the parameters measured. Here, we use ring-width and stable isotopes in cellulose of trees from the northwestern Iberian Peninsula (IP) to understand regional summer hydroclimate over the last 400 years and the associated atmospheric patterns. Spatial correlations between tree rings and gridded climate products demonstrate that isotope signatures in the targeted Iberian pine forests are very sensitive to water availability during the summer period, and are mainly controlled by stomatal conductance. Non-linear methods based on extreme events analysis allow for capturing distinct seasonal climatic variability recorded by tree-ring parameters and asymmetric signals of the associated atmospheric features. Moreover, years with extreme high (low) values in the tree-ring records were characterised by coherent large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns with reduced (enhanced) moisture transport onto the northwestern IP. These analyses of extremes revealed that high/low proxy values do not necessarily correspond to mirror images in the atmospheric anomaly patterns, suggesting different drivers of these patterns and the corresponding signature recorded in the proxies. Regional hydroclimate features across the broader IP and western Europe during extreme wet/dry summers detected by the northwestern IP trees compare favourably to an independent multicentury sea level pressure and drought reconstruction for Europe. These independent sources of past climate validate our findings that attribute non-linear moisture signals recorded by extreme tree-ring values to distinct large-scale atmospheric patterns and allow for 400-yr reconstructions of the frequency of occurrence of extreme conditions in summer hydroclimate.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2016. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here under a nonexclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license granted to WHOI. It is made available for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Climate Dynamics 49 (2017): 143-161, doi:10.1007/s00382-016-3332-z.
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