EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Do tree-rings match the low-frequency patterns represented in climate models?

Mara McPartland1, Raphaël Hébert1, and Thomas Laepple1,2
Mara McPartland et al.
  • 1Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2University of Bremen, MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences and Faculty of Geosciences, Bremen, Germany

Whether tree-rings faithfully archive the low-frequency variability (LFV) in climate remains debated. In theory, trees are fundamentally limited by being relatively short-lived and therefore unable to capture variations in the climate that are longer than their own lifespans. In addition, near universal practices of “detrending” tree-ring records to remove individualistic age-growth trends place further constraints on the amount of LFV that is maintained in final chronologies. Detrending methods designed to boost LFV may increase low-frequency signals, but how well those patterns reflect true variations in climate as opposed to long growth trends is still unclear. In this study, we first compared the spectral properties of the PAGES North America 2k dataset of temperature-sensitive tree-ring records against long temperature records to determine how much variability is retained in tree-rings after detrending, and how detrending method influences agreement in tree-ring power spectra across space. Then, we compare the spectral properties of tree-rings to the CMIP6 last millennium simulation to validate climate models against long proxy records. This research works to resolve discrepancies between temperature proxies and climate models on long timescales in order to improve our understanding of centennial-scale variability in the Earth’s climate system.

How to cite: McPartland, M., Hébert, R., and Laepple, T.: Do tree-rings match the low-frequency patterns represented in climate models?, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-12346,, 2023.