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Research article2016Peer reviewedOpen access

Previous growing season climate controls the occurrence of black spruce growth anomalies in boreal forests of Eastern Canada

Ols, Clementine; Hofgaard, Annika; Bergeron, Yves; Drobyshev, Igor


To better understand climatic origins of annual tree-growth anomalies in boreal forests, we analysed 895 black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) tree-growth series from 46 xeric sites situated along three latitudinal transects in Eastern Canada. We identified interannual (based on comparison with previous year growth) and multidecadal (based on the entire tree-ring width distribution) growth anomalies between 1901 and 2001 at site and transect levels. Growth anomalies occurred mainly at site level and seldom at larger spatial scales. Both positive interannual and multidecadal growth anomalies were strongly associated with below-average temperatures and above-average precipitation during the previous growing season (June(t-1) - August(t-1)). The climatic signature of negative interannual and multidecadal growth anomalies was more complex and mainly associated with current-year climatic anomalies. Between the early and late 20th century, only negative multidecadal anomalies became more frequent. Our results highlight the role of previous growing season climate in controlling tree growth processes and suggest a positive association between climate warming and increases in the frequency of negative multidecadal growth anomalies. Projected climate change may further favour the occurrence of tree-growth anomalies and enhance the role of site conditions as modifiers of tree response to regional climate change.


ecological resilience; climate change; growth sensitivity; adaptive capacity; forest productivity

Published in

Canadian Journal of Forest Research
2016, Volume: 46, number: 5, pages: 696-705

        Associated SLU-program


        Sustainable Development Goals

        SDG13 Climate action

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Climate Research

        Publication identifier


        Permanent link to this page (URI)