Episodic and Systematic Tree Ring-Width Variation (AD 1763–2013) in the Takhini Valley, Southwest Yukon, Canada
Keywords:dendrochronology, climate, forest history, moisture, palaeoclimate, ring-width, white spruce, Yukon
A tree-ring analysis of 764 western white spruce (Picea albertiana) in the Takhini Valley of southwest Yukon was conducted to assess short- and long-term variation in growth and local climate. The resulting chronology spanned the period from AD 1763 to 2013. A polynomial regression (R = 0.720, p < 0.001) indicated that the pre-1840 segment of the chronology had below-normal tree ring-width index (RWI) values (average 0.64, with modest variation), but the subsequent segment had greater variation and a steady increase in RWI values (average 0.89) until ~1920. After 1930, RWI values began to increase again (average 1.06) with 51% more variation than had previously occurred. Peak RWI values after 1930 were double those of the early 1800s. RWI values were uncorrelated with air temperature variables (except September minima), but weakly and positively correlated (r < 0.35) with precipitation variables. RWI values were moderately correlated with annual heat-moisture index values (r = −0.415, p < 0.001), although more strongly with RWI values less than 1.1 (R = −0.631, p < 0.001). Therefore, the RWI chronology was interpreted from an ecological moisture-balance perspective, with possible long-term temperature changes estimated from archival sources. The latter suggested a 2.1˚ – 3.1˚C rise since the early 1800s. Extreme RWI values and portions of the chronology were associated with known environmental events.