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CR 41:125-130 (2010)  -  DOI:

Assessing the spatial signature of European climate reconstructions

Ulf Büntgen1,2,*, Jörg Franke1, David Frank1, Rob Wilson3, Fidel González-Rouco4, Jan Esper5

1Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR), University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
3University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9AL, UK
4University of Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
5Department of Geography, Gutenberg University, 55099 Mainz, Germany

ABSTRACT: Much progress has recently been made in reconstructing European temperature variability over centuries to millennia. In contrast, there are only a few attempts at long-term precipitation and/or drought reconstruction, which are spatially less significant. Here we discuss the possibility of using climate reconstructions from tree-ring density and width to make spatially explicit estimates of European temperature and drought variability, respectively. Four experiments were performed to assess spatial field correlations of (1) parameter-specific mean reconstructions, (2) individual site reconstructions, (3) instrumental stations, and (4) model analogues. The simple mean of 4 temperature reconstructions from northern Scandinavia and high-elevation sites in the Tatra, Alps, and Pyrenees revealed a significant positive correlation (r > 0.4) with the gridded Central European summer temperature south of 55°N and west of 25°E. In contrast, the mean of 11 hydro-climatic reconstructions located between Sweden and Turkey had a significant positive correlation with only a handful of small patches scattered along an east-west corridor from the British Isles over Germany to the Baltic. The significant positive correlation increased to 71% of the European landmass between 35–70°N and 10°W–40°E when using the individual 4 temperature reconstructions instead. The 11 individual hydro-climatic reconstructions had a significant positve correlation  with summer drought over only 16% of the area. The proxy-based correlation fields are greatly supported by the spatial significance of instrumental station measurements and model analogues corresponding to the initial tree-ring site locations.

KEY WORDS: Climate reconstruction · Dendroclimatology · Hydroclimatology · Tree rings · Temperature · Precipitation · Drought · Europe

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Cite this article as: Büntgen U, Franke J, Frank D, Wilson R, González-Rouco F, Esper J (2010) Assessing the spatial signature of European climate reconstructions. Clim Res 41:125-130.

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