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Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen stable isotope ratios of whole wood, cellulose and lignin methoxyl groups of Picea abies as climate proxies


Y. Gori, IASMA Research and Innovation Centre – Fondazione Edmund Mach, Via E. Mach 1, 38010 San Michele all'Adige, Italy.




Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (C, H and O) stable isotope ratios of whole wood and components are commonly used as paleoclimate proxies. In this work we consider eight different proxies in order to discover the most suitable wood component and stable isotope ratio to provide the strongest climate signal in Picea abies in a southeastern Alpine region (Trentino, Italy).


δ13C, δ18O and δ2H values in whole wood and cellulose, and δ13C and δ2H values in lignin methoxyl groups were measured. Analysis was performed using an Isotopic Ratio Mass Spectrometer coupled with an Elemental Analyser for measuring 13C/12C and a Pyrolyser for measuring 2H/1H and 18O/16O. The data were evaluated by Principal Component Analysis, and a simple Pearson's correlation between isotope chronologies and climatic features, and multiple linear regression were performed to evaluate the data.


Each stable isotope ratio in cellulose and lignin methoxyl differs significantly from the same stable isotope ratio in whole wood, the values begin higher in cellulose and lignin except for the lignin δ2H values. Significant correlations were found between the whole wood and the cellulose fractions for each isotope ratio. Overall, the highest correlations with temperature were found with the δ18O and δ2H values in whole wood, whereas no significant correlations were found between isotope proxies and precipitation.


δ18O and δ2H values in whole wood provide the best temperature signals in Picea abies in the northern Italian study area. Extraction of cellulose and lignin and analysis of other isotopic ratios do not seem to be necessary. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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