Climatic response of ring width and maximum latewood density of Larix sibirica in the Altay Mountains, reveals recent warming trends

Research paper by Feng Chen, Yu-jiang Yuan, Wen-shou Wei, Zi-ang Fan, Tong-wen Zhang, Hua-ming Shang, Rui-bo Zhang, Shu-long Yu, Chun-rong Ji, Li Qin

Indexed on: 24 Feb '12Published on: 24 Feb '12Published in: Annals of Forest Science


Siberian larch (Larix sibirica) is a highly climate sensitive species. Presently, the Altay Mountains is covered by widespread forests dominated by Siberian larch and thus has a great potential for dendroclimatological studies. However, tree-ring network of the Altay Mountains has not yet been well developed. The development of the new chronologies and the knowledge about the influence of climatic variables on tree growth is needed.X-ray densitometric techniques were applied to obtain ring width (RW) and maximum latewood density (MXD) of Siberian larch from two upper tree line sites in the Altay Mountains, China. Climatic responses in ring widths and maximum latewood densities from the Altay Mountains (China, Russia, and Mongolia) were investigated by simple correlation analyses. To assess the common growth forces among the individual sites of the Altay Mountains, simple correlation, principal component analyses, and spatial correlation analysis were applied over the common period of the chronologies.Ring width and maximum latewood density increases with decreasing precipitation, increasing temperature from late spring to late summer during the growing season. Based on the results of principal component analyses and spatial correlation analysis, summer temperature (June–July) is the most important forces on the Siberian larch growth of the Altay Mountains. The growth of Siberian larch in the Altay Mountains captures the current warming trend. The growth of Siberian larch did not clearly lose its sensitivity under most recent warming in our study areas.The new MXD chronologies is presently the longest, absolutely dated, tree-ring density record yet developed from China. The climate response analysis shows that the RW and MXD of Siberian larch have strong responses to temperature in the growing season. Thus, MXD and RW of Siberian larch provides the best information for climate reconstruction in the warm season. Tree-rings of Siberian larch allow detecting the recently observed warming trend and putting it into the long-term climatic context in the Altay Mountains, due to the strong growth sensitivity to temperature change.