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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Tree growth influenced by warming winter climate and summer moisture availability in northern temperate forests

Harvey, Jill; Smiljanić, Marko; Scharnweber, Tobias; Buras, Allan ; Cedro, Anna; Cruz Garcia, Roberto; Drobyshev, Igor; Janecka, Karolina; Jansons, Aris; Kaczka, Ryszard; Klisz, Marcin; Läänelaid, Alar; Matisons, Roberts; Muffler, Lena; Sohar, Kristina; Spyt, Barbara; Stolz, Juliane; van der Maaten, Ernst; van der Maaten-Theunissen, Marieke; Vitas, Adomas;
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The role of future forests in global biogeochemical cycles will depend on how different tree species respond to climate. Interpreting the response of forest growth to climate change requires an understanding of the temporal and spatial patterns of seasonal climatic influences on the growth of common tree species. We constructed a new network of 310 tree‐ring width chronologies from three common tree species (Quercus robur , Pinus sylvestris and Fagus sylvatica ) collected for different ecological, management and climate purposes in the south Baltic Sea region at the border of three bioclimatic zones (temperate continental, oceanic, southern boreal). The major climate factors (temperature, precipitation, drought) affecting tree growth at monthly and seasonal scales were identified. Our analysis documents that 20th century Scots pine and deciduous species growth is generally controlled by different climate parameters, and that summer moisture availability is increasingly important for the growth of deciduous species examined. We report changes in the influence of winter climate variables over the last decades, where a decreasing influence of late winter temperature on deciduous tree growth and an increasing influence of winter temperature on Scots pine growth was found. By comparing climate–growth responses for the 1943–1972 and 1973–2002 periods and characterizing site‐level growth response stability, a descriptive application of spatial segregation analysis distinguished sites with stable responses to dominant climate parameters (northeast of the study region), and sites that collectively showed unstable responses to winter climate (southeast of the study region). The findings presented here highlight the temporally unstable and nonuniform responses of tree growth to climate variability, and that there are geographical coherent regions where these changes are similar. Considering continued climate change in the future, our results provide important regional perspectives on recent broad‐scale climate–growth relationships for trees across the temperate to boreal forest transition around the south Baltic Sea.


Baltic Sea; climate change; climate-growth relationships; dendroecology; Europe; tree growth; tree-ring network; winter climate

Published in

Global Change Biology
2020, volume: 26, number: 4, pages: 2505-2518
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Harvey, Jill
University of Greifswald
Smiljanić, Marko
University of Greifswald
Scharnweber, Tobias
University of Greifswald
Buras, Allan
TUM School of Life Sciences
Cedro, Anna
University of Szczecin
Cruz Garcia, Roberto
University of Greifswald
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT)
Janecka, Karolina
University of Greifswald
Jansons, Aris
Latvian State Forest Research Institute "Silava"
Kaczka, Ryszard
University of Silesia
Klisz, Marcin
Forest Research Institute
Läänelaid, Alar
University of Tartu
Matisons, Roberts
Latvian State Forest Research Institute Silava
Muffler, Lena
University of Gottingen
Sohar, Kristina
University of Tartu
Spyt, Barbara
University of Silesia
Stolz, Juliane
Dresden University of Technology (TUD)
van der Maaten, Ernst
Dresden University of Technology (TUD)
van der Maaten-Theunissen, Marieke
Dresden University of Technology (TUD)
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Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Climate Research

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