Temperature variability over the past millennium inferred from Northwestern Alaska tree rings

Rosanne D'Arrigo, Erika Mashig, David Frank, Rob Wilson, Gordon Jacoby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


We describe a new tree-ring width data set of 14 white spruce chronologies for the Seward Peninsula (SP), Alaska, based on living and subfossil wood dating from 1358 to 2001 AD. A composite chronology derived from these data correlates positively and significantly with summer temperatures at Nome from 1910 to 1970, after which there is some loss of positive temperature response. There is inferred cooling during periods within the Little Ice Age (LIA) from the early to middle 1600s and late 1700s to middle 1800s; and warming from the middle 1600s to early 1700s. We also present a larger composite data set covering 978-2001 AD, utilizing the SP ring-width data in combination with archaeological wood measurements and other recent collections from northwestern Alaska. The Regional Curve Standardization (RCS) method was employed to maximize potential low-frequency information in this data set. The RCS chronology shows intervals of persistent above-average growth around the time of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) early in the millennium, which are comparable to growth levels in recent centuries. There is a more sustained cold interval during the LIA inferred from the RCS record as compared to the SP ring-width series. The chronologies correlate significantly with Bering and Chukchi Sea sea surface temperatures and with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation index. These atmosphere-ocean linkages probably account for the differences between these records and large-scale reconstructions of Arctic and Northern Hemisphere temperatures based largely on continental interior proxy data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-236
Number of pages10
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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