Climate Response of Larch and Birch Forests across an Elevational Transect and Hemisphere-Wide Comparisons, Kamchatka Peninsula, Russian Far East
Kamchatka’s forests span across the peninsula’s diverse topography and provide a wide range of physiographic and elevational settings that can be used to investigate how forests are responding to climate change and to anticipate future response. Birch (Betula ermanii Cham.) and larch (Larix gmelinii (Rupr.) Kuzen) were sampled at eight new sites and together with previous collections were compared with monthly temperature and precipitation records to identify their climate response. Comparisons show that tree-ring widths in both species are primarily influenced by May through August temperatures of the current growth year, and that there is a general increase in temperature sensitivity with altitude. The ring-width data for each species were also combined into regional chronologies. The resulting composite larch chronology shows a strong resemblance to a Northern Hemisphere (NH) tree-ring based temperature reconstruction with the larch series tracking NH temperatures closely through the past 300 years. The composite birch ring-width series more closely reflects the Pacific regional coastal late summer temperatures. These new data improve our understanding of the response of forests to climate and show the low frequency warming noted in other, more continental records from high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Also evident in the ring-width record is that the larch and birch forests continue to track the strong warming of interior Kamchatka.
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