Himalayan treelines are exposed to above average climate change impact, resulting in complex tree growth–climate relationships for Himalayan Silver Fir (Abies spectabilis
(D. Don) Spach) at central Himalayan treelines. The majority of recent studies detected current tree growth sensitivity to dry conditions during pre-monsoon seasons. The aim of this study was to analyze growth–climate relationships for more than a century for a treeline ecotone in east-central Nepal and to test for Blue Intensity (BI; used as a surrogate of maximum late wood density) as climate proxy. We determined the relationships of Abies spectabilis
radial tree growth and BI to climate by correlating both to temperature, precipitation and drought index data. The results showed a significantly unstable dendroclimatic signal over time. Climate warming-induced moisture deficits during pre-monsoon seasons became a major factor limiting radial tree growth during recent decades. Earlier in time, the dendroclimatic signal was weaker, predominantly reflecting a positive relationship of tree growth and summer temperature. Compared to radial tree growth, BI showed a different but strong climate signal. Temporally unstable correlations may be attributed to increasing effects of above-average rates of climate warming. An extended network of Himalayan tree-ring sites is needed to further analyze cause–effect relationships and to solve this attribution problem.
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