Watching Trees Grow: Observations of Radial Tree Growth Across Multiple Temporal Scales in Northern Labrador
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This research assesses whether a refinement of the temporal resolution of tree-ring data can improve our understanding of the radial growth-climate relationship. Two study sites in Northern Labrador were chosen, one coastal (Nain), and the other inland (Kamestastin). In Nain, microcore samples were taken weekly from the same five white spruce (Picea glauca) trees over the 2014 growing season. After cross sections were made and stained, the resulting 10µm thin radii provided a direct view of active ring development. In coastal Labrador, radial growth was initiated during the last week of June 2014, and ceased by August 25th. Circumference band dendrometers were installed on white spruce trees at both the Nain and Kamestastin sites. The dendrometers were used to measure micrometre-scale changes over the 2014 growing season. Analogous records of temperature were collected with equal temporal resolution, from an Environment Canada climate station (#8502800), and via a programmable data logger (UX120-006M, Onset HOBO). Correlation function analysis determined the relationship between daily temperature variables and daily variations in stem size. A strong relationship was found between minimum daily temperature and daily stem size at both sites over the eight week long growing season. Traditional dendrochronological sampling methods were utilized to retrieve tree cores from white spruce and eastern larch (Larix laricina) in Nain and Kamestastin. Site-specific master growth chronologies were created using crossdating and standardization techniques. After establishing long term records of monthly temperature and accumulated growing degree-days (GDD) at both study sites, a linear regression analysis was undertaken to determine the suitability of these two variables as predictors of annual-radial growth. An accumulated June/July GDD index was identified as an overall better predictor of annual ring-width than mean monthly temperature variables in northern Labrador. Exploring radial growth on an intra-annual scale helped to improve our understanding of the complex radial growth-climate relationship in Labrador. This allows for a strengthening of tree rings as a proxy climate indicator in remote regions of the northern boreal forest. The findings from this thesis provide the tools necessary to improve upon long-term climate reconstruction and forecasts of boreal forest structure in the face of climate change.
DegreeMaster of Environment and Sustainability (M.E.S.)
DepartmentSchool of Environment and Sustainability
ProgramEnvironment and Sustainability
SupervisorLaroque, Colin P.
CommitteeBonsal, Barrie; Loring, Philip
Copyright DateAugust 2015
Boreal Forest, Dendrochronology, Dendroclimatology, Dendrometer, Microcoring, Labrador, Treeline, Picea glauca (white spruce), Larix laricina (eastern larch), Radial Growth.