Increased Tree-ring Network Density Reveals More Precise Estimations of Sub-regional Hydroclimate Variability and Climate Dynamics in the Midwest, USA

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Geography and Geology


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences


Understanding the historic variability in the hydroclimate provides important information on possible extreme dry or wet periods that in turn inform water management plans. Tree rings have long provided historical context of hydroclimate variability of the U.S. However, the tree-ring network used to create these countrywide gridded reconstructions is sparse in certain locations, such as the Midwest. Here, we increase (n = 20) the spatial resolution of the tree-ring network in southern Indiana and compare a summer (June-August) Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) reconstruction to existing gridded reconstructions of PDSI for this region. We find both droughts and pluvials that were previously unknown that rival the most intense PDSI values during the instrumental period. Additionally, historical drought occurred in Indiana that eclipsed instrumental conditions with regard to severity and duration. During the period 1962-2004 CE, we find that teleconnections of drought conditions through the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation have a strong influence (r = -0.60, p < 0.01) on secondary tree growth in this region for the late spring-early summer season. These findings highlight the importance of continuing to increase the spatial resolution of the tree-ring network used to infer past climate dynamics to capture the sub-regional spatial variability. Increasing the spatial resolution of the tree-ring network for a given region can better identify sub-regional variability, improve the accuracy of regional tree-ring PDSI reconstructions, and provide better information for climatic teleconnections.

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Climate Dynamics





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