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Exactly dated ring-width chronologies derived from Pyrenean oak and sweet chestnut trees growing in northern Extremadura, Spain, were evaluated for their potential as proxies for regional precipitation and North Atlantic Oscillation variability. The relationships among tree-rings, instrumental climatic records, and three versions of the NAO index were computed for different time subperiods over the last century. The results indicate that tree-ring records reflect, with variable intensity, both short-term and long-term variations in climate. Multiple correlation and regression analysis revealed that summer precipitation appeared to be the major factor affecting tree growth at inter-annual timescales. Moreover, since fluctuations in accumulated variability in annual rainfall over southwest Iberia are controlled by winter precipitation, the accumulated rainfall (August of the year n-1 to July of year n) and winter NAO indices are also strongly correlated with tree-ring records at interdecadal timescales. This relationship appears to be especially strong during the second half of the 20th century, which is consistent with an increase of the NAO signal in the annual precipitation during the later part of the century. These results indicate that tree-rings from western Iberia are potential proxies of the NAO variability, useful to be included in palaeoclimatic model studies.

Keywords: Fagaceae; Iberia; North Atlantic Oscillation; dendroclimatology; winter NAO and precipitation variability

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Laboratorio de Dendrocronología e Historia Ambiental, IANIGLA-CCT-CONICET, Mendoza, Argentina 2: CGUL, IDL, Faculdade de Ciências, Lisbon, Portugal 3: Departamento de Física de la Tierra II, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain 4: Area de Ecología, Departamento de Física, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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