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Comparison of stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in Picea glauca tree rings and Sphagnum fuscum moss remains from subarctic Canada

  • Steffen Holzkämper (a1) (a2), Päivi Kaislahti Tillman (a2), Peter Kuhry (a2) and Jan Esper (a1)

Stable isotope ratios from tree rings and peatland mosses have become important proxies of past climate variations. We here compare recent stable carbon and oxygen isotope ratios in cellulose of tree rings from white spruce (Picea glauca), growing near the arctic tree line; and cellulose of Sphagnum fuscum stems, growing in a hummock of a subarctic peatland, in west-central Canada. Results show that carbon isotopes in S. fuscum correlate significantly with July temperatures over the past ~20 yr. The oxygen isotopes correlate with both summer temperature and precipitation. Analyses of the tree-ring isotopes revealed summer temperatures to be the main controlling factor for carbon isotope variations, whereas tree-ring oxygen isotope ratios are controlled by a combination of spring temperatures and precipitation totals. We also explore the potential of combining high-frequency (annual) climate signals derived from long tree-ring series with low-frequency (decadal to centennial) climate signals derived from the moss remains in peat deposits. This cross-archive comparison revealed no association between the oxygen isotopes, which likely results from the varying sensitivity of the archives to different seasons. For the carbon isotopes, common variance could be achieved through adjustments of the Sphagnum age model within dating error.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author at: Department of Geography, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Becherweg 21, 55099 Mainz, Germany. Fax: + 49 6131 39 24735. Email Address:
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