Geophysical Research Letters

Spatial and temporal oxygen isotope trends at the northern tree-line in Eurasia

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Abstract

[1] The oxygen isotope ratio of ice cores and sea-sediments is an extremely useful source of information on long-term climatic changes. A similar approach has been applied to the oxygen isotope ratio of tree rings to enable a pattern-based reconstruction of the isotope variations on the continents. We present an oxygen isotope map for northern Eurasia spanning from Norway to Siberia, that reflects the isotope distribution in the late 19th century, and compare it with an equivalent map for the present-day situation. The average isotope values of 130 trees show a large east-to-west gradient and are highly correlated with the isotope distribution of precipitation. Surprisingly, the 18O/16O ratio of the wood has been decreasing in the interior of the continent since the late 19th century, in contrast to the strong temperature increase recorded by meteorological data. From this isotope trend over time a change in the seasonality of precipitation can be inferred.

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