Inferred summer precipitation for southern Ontario back to AD 610, as reconstructed from ring widths of Thuja occidentalis

Buckley, Brendan M.; Wilson, Robert J. S.; Kelly, Peter E.; Larson, Douglas W.; Cook, Edward R.

We present a network of seven ring-width chronologies of eastern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.) from the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario, Canada. Using principal component regression, a 350-year June-July precipitation reconstruction (SOR) is developed for the region. Prior to the 20th century, the SOR series shows reasonable coherence, particularly at the decadal scale, with an independent tree-ring-based reconstruction of the Palmer drought severity index (PDSI) for roughly the same region. A weakening of the tree-growth – climate relationship in recent decades results in a regression model explaining 21% of the variance in the original climate series when the recent data are used for calibration. We therefore compromise with a model, calibrated for the period 1900–1960, which explains 33% of the variance. The model, while not terribly strong, does pass verification tests, indicating some degree of predictive skill. The longest chronology in our network, the 2787-year Flowerpot Island (FLOW) chronology, also exhibits common variability with the PDSI reconstruction, particularly on decadal and longer time scales and was used to infer hydroclimatic conditions back to AD 610. The combined information of the SOR, PDSI, and FLOW series suggests that dry conditions existed for the periods 1700–1725, 1750–1800, and 1840–1900, and wet conditions for the periods 1675–1700, 1730–1750, and 1810–1840. Over longer time scales, the FLOW chronology shows that summer precipitation was particularly variable during the 7th, 9th, 13th, and 16th centuries.

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Also Published In

Canadian Journal of Forest Research

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