Reconstructing Century-long Snow Regimes Using Estimates of High Arctic Salix arctica Radial Growth
Niels M. Schmidt, Claudia Baittinger, Mads C. Forchhammer
Using a combination of microscopic examination and electronic scanning and printing, we analyzed the impacts of early spring snow cover extent and temperature during the growing season on the annual radial growth in arctic willow (Salix arctica Pallas) in the Zackenberg valley, High Arctic Northeast Greenland. So far, only little dendroclimatological research has been conducted on Salix arctica, and the species constitutes a yet-untapped resource for climate reconstruction in the Arctic. We obtained reliable annual radial growth measurements from a total of 43 Salix arctica stem samples and analyzed these in a mixed model to determine the limiting climatic factors. We found that early spring snow cover extent impacted the annual growth significantly, whereas variable temperature regimes seemed unimportant. Following the building of a site chronology for the Zackenberg valley, the early spring snow cover extent during the last century was reconstructed.