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Åland churches as archives of tree-ring records sensitive to fluctuating climate
- Helama, Samuli, Bartholin, Thomas S.
- Acta palaeobotanica 2019 v.59 no.1 pp. 131-143
- Pinus sylvestris, climatic factors, dendrochronology, drought, growth rings, historic sites, islands, paleoclimatology, trees, Baltic Sea, Finland
- Tree-ring chronologies provide high-resolution late Quaternary palaeoclimatic data. An important aim of tree-ring research is to extend the chronologies back in time, before the period covered by old living trees. Tree-ring material from historic buildings offers an opportunity to develop long chronologies that, in some regions, may cover the period of the past millennium. Such materials have remained in conditions favourable to preservation and can be used to date the construction timber by means of dendrochronology. Apart from dating, tree-ring data may prove valuable in interpreting past climatic conditions. Here we analyse the data of 111 Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) tree-ring series from the Åland Islands in south-western Finland. In so doing, we illustrate the variation of wetness and drought in the region over a historical time frame (1057–1826). Non-climatic trends were removed from these series using alternative types of detrending procedures. Tree-ring chronologies constructed from the same raw data but using different types of detrending methods agreed on annual to subcentennial scales. The chronologies produced using regional curve standardization (RCS), preferably combined with implementation of a signal-free approach, were comparable with previously published sedimentary and tree-ring evidence from the same region. While non-RCS methods are effective in removing non-climatic information from the chronology, they also resulted in removal of the long-term variation (low-frequency), which did, at least in our data, represent the palaeoclimatic signal common to different types of proxy records. These records, including our data and those of gridded reconstructions developed previously as the Old World Drought Atlas, agreed in indicating dry conditions over the pre-1250 period and around the mid-15ᵗʰ century. The Åland chronology is characterized by notable fluctuations in the availability of tree-ring samples; the periods with low sample replication probably pinpoint years when large construction projects were suspended on these islands.