IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Fading temperature sensitivity of Alpine tree growth at its Mediterranean margin and associated effects on large-scale climate reconstructions


  • Ulf Büntgen


  • David Frank
  • Thomas Neuenschwander
  • Jan Esper


A millennium-long tree-ring width chronology of living and dead larch (Larix decidua Mill.) specimens from the Maritime French Alps was introduced 35 years ago. This record has been included in various large-scale temperature reconstructions, though recent analyses revealed only weak associations with regional summer temperatures. Calibration and verification trials against instrumental measurements were, however, limited by the original record’s early ending in 1974. Here we introduce an update of this widely considered chronology until 2007 and back into medieval times. A total of 297 new larch samples from high-elevation settings in the southern French Alps were included, and the combined 398 measurement series allowed effects of tree-ring detrending and chronology development to be explored. Comparisons with meteorological temperature, precipitation and drought indices revealed weak and temporally inconsistent climate sensitivity. To further place these local findings in a biogeographic context, we used >3,000 larch trees from 61 locations across the Alpine arc. This unique network approach confirmed fading temperature sensitivity with decreasing latitude, and thus questioned the overall reliability of ring width-based temperature reconstructions in the Mediterranean region. Our results further emphasize the pending need to develop chronologies from maximum latewood densities and stable isotope ratios across the lower latitudes, and to carefully evaluate ecological site conditions and methodological data restrictions prior to compiling local data into global networks. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Ulf Büntgen & David Frank & Thomas Neuenschwander & Jan Esper, 2012. "Fading temperature sensitivity of Alpine tree growth at its Mediterranean margin and associated effects on large-scale climate reconstructions," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 651-666, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:114:y:2012:i:3:p:651-666
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0450-4

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ulf Büntgen & Willy Tegel & Marco Carrer & Paul Krusic & Michael Hayes & Jan Esper, 2015. "Commentary to Wetter et al. (2014): Limited tree-ring evidence for a 1540 European ‘Megadrought’," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 131(2), pages 183-190, July.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:114:y:2012:i:3:p:651-666. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.