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Are there enormous age-trends in stable carbon isotope ratios of oak tree rings? / Danny, McCarroll; Josie, Duffy; Neil, Loader; Giles, Young; Darren, Davies

Holocene

Swansea University Authors: Danny, McCarroll, Josie, Duffy, Neil, Loader, Giles, Young, Darren, Davies

Abstract

We test a recent prediction that stable carbon isotope ratios from UK oaks will display age-trends of more than 4‰ per century by measuring >5400 carbon isotope ratios from the late-wood alpha-cellulose of individual rings from 18 modern oak trees and 50 building timbers spanning the 9th to 21st...

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Published in: Holocene
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa54506
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Abstract: We test a recent prediction that stable carbon isotope ratios from UK oaks will display age-trends of more than 4‰ per century by measuring >5400 carbon isotope ratios from the late-wood alpha-cellulose of individual rings from 18 modern oak trees and 50 building timbers spanning the 9th to 21st centuries. After a very short (c.5 years) juvenile phase with slightly elevated values, the number of series that show rising and falling trends is almost equal (33:35) and the average trend is almost zero. These results are based upon measuring and averaging the trends in individual time-series; the ‘mean of the slopes’ approach. We demonstrate that the more conventional ‘slope of the mean’ approach can produce strong but spurious ‘age-trends’ even when the constituent series are flat, with zero slope and zero variance. We conclude that it is safe to compile stable carbon isotope chronologies from UK oaks without de-trending. The isotope chronologies produced in this way are not subject to the ‘segment length curse’, which applies to growth measurements, such as ring width or density, and have the potential to retain very long-term climate signals.
Keywords: dendrochronology, dendroclimatology, Quercus, palaeoclimate.