Tree growth influenced by warming winter climate and summer moisture availability in northern temperate forests

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Jill E. Harvey - , Natural Resources Canada (Author)
  • Marko Smiljanić - , University of Greifswald (Author)
  • Tobias Scharnweber - , University of Greifswald (Author)
  • Allan Buras - , Technical University of Munich (Author)
  • Anna Cedro - , University of Szczecin (Author)
  • Roberto Cruz‐García - , University of Greifswald (Author)
  • Igor Drobyshev - , Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (Author)
  • Karolina Janecka - , University of Greifswald (Author)
  • Āris Jansons - , Latvian State Forest Research Institute Silava (Author)
  • Ryszard Kaczka - , University of Silesia in Katowice (Author)
  • Marcin Klisz - , Forest Research Institute (Author)
  • Alar Läänelaid - , University of Tartu (Author)
  • Roberts Matisons - , Latvian State Forest Research Institute Silava (Author)
  • Lena Muffler - , University of Göttingen (Author)
  • Kristina Sohar - , University of Tartu (Author)
  • Barbara Spyt - , University of Silesia in Katowice (Author)
  • Juliane Stolz - (Author)
  • Ernst van der Maaten - , Chair of Forest Growth and Woody Biomass Production (Author)
  • Marieke van der Maaten‐Theunissen - , Chair of Forest Growth and Woody Biomass Production (Author)
  • Adomas Vitas - , Vytautas Magnus University (Author)
  • Robert Weigel - , University of Göttingen (Author)
  • Jürgen Kreyling - , University of Greifswald (Author)
  • Martin Wilmking - , University of Greifswald (Author)
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences


The role of future forests in global biogeochemical cycles will depend on how different tree species respond to climate. Interpreting the response of forest growth to climate change requires an understanding of the temporal and spatial patterns of seasonal climatic influences on the growth of common tree species. We constructed a new network of 310 tree-ring width chronologies from three common tree species (Quercus robur, Pinus sylvestris and Fagus sylvatica) collected for different ecological, management and climate purposes in the south Baltic Sea region at the border of three bioclimatic zones (temperate continental, oceanic, southern boreal). The major climate factors (temperature, precipitation, drought) affecting tree growth at monthly and seasonal scales were identified. Our analysis documents that 20th century Scots pine and deciduous species growth is generally controlled by different climate parameters, and that summer moisture availability is increasingly important for the growth of deciduous species examined. We report changes in the influence of winter climate variables over the last decades, where a decreasing influence of late winter temperature on deciduous tree growth and an increasing influence of winter temperature on Scots pine growth was found. By comparing climate–growth responses for the 1943–1972 and 1973–2002 periods and characterizing site-level growth response stability, a descriptive application of spatial segregation analysis distinguished sites with stable responses to dominant climate parameters (northeast of the study region), and sites that collectively showed unstable responses to winter climate (southeast of the study region). The findings presented here highlight the temporally unstable and nonuniform responses of tree growth to climate variability, and that there are geographical coherent regions where these changes are similar. Considering continued climate change in the future, our results provide important regional perspectives on recent broad-scale climate–growth relationships for trees across the temperate to boreal forest transition around the south Baltic Sea.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2505-2518
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

External IDs

Scopus 85078663071
ORCID /0000-0002-2942-9180/work/142233768
ORCID /0000-0002-5218-6682/work/145699218
ORCID /0000-0002-5098-4090/work/158305052