Geophysical Research Letters

Large-scale treeline changes recorded in Siberia

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Abstract

[1] Analysis of a multi-species network of western Siberian ecotone sites revealed pulses of tree invasion into genuine treeless tundra environments in the 1940s and 1950s and after the early 1970s. In addition, increases in radial stem growth synchronous to the late 20th century treeline change are observed. Both treeline changes and growth increases correspond with decadal-scale periods of temperature that are warmer than in any other period since observations started, suggesting - even if indirect - the sensitivity of large-scale treeline changes to this climatic forcing. The mid 20th century recruitment period reported here for the western Siberian network is compared with local findings from Europe and North America suggesting a circumpolar trend perhaps related to climate warming patterns. For western Siberia, the presence of relict stumps, nevertheless, indicates that this present colonization is reoccupying sites that had tree cover earlier in the last millennium.

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