ClimCell - Climate dynamics of the last Millennium derived from Cell structure measurements of pine and oak trees in the temperate lowlands of NE-Germany and N-Poland

According to the assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) global warming is undoubtedly occurring. Moreover the dynamics of regional and seasonal climate changes will differ significantly. Model comparisons indicate that some parts of the globe and some seasons experience stable or in some cases even declining temperatures. In order to more comprehensively understand such particular regional and seasonal trends, palaeoclimatology directs its attention towards long-term climate reconstructions. Tree-ring based temperature reconstructions form the major part of the data base used for the IPCC report. Temperature reconstructions so far indicated a rise in temperatures during the last decades. One major criticism, however, is that the bulk of the tree-ring chronologies used were from trees growing near the latitudinal or altitudinal limits, e.g., Alpine regions and northern Scandinavia. This is especially true for all tree-ring chronologies longer than 500 years. In contrast, long-term reconstructions derived from trees growing well within their latitudinal or altitudinal limits are missing. Thus they are not part of the IPCC data base, which we believe is a crucial gap in the palaeoclimate database. For instance, no tree-ring-based temperature reconstructions of millennial scale are available as yet for the temperate lowlands in Europe! Preliminary studies, however, indicate that such reconstructions may reveal long-term trends that substantially differ from those obtained for the high latitudes and altitudes, thus leaving doubts concerning the representativeness of large hemispherical and global reconstructions concerning the temperate lowlands in Europe. This gap in the data base still exists until today because dendroclimatology at temperate lowland sites has been upset for three main reasons, i.e., diffuse climate-growth relationships, only short chronologies because long-living trees were rare and the potential loss of low-frequency signals due to short sample segment lengths. This dilemma can be solved by analysing tree-ring parameters, other than width, e.g., stable isotopes or cell structures, but measuring these parameters is very time-consuming. Recently, we have developed a new method applying confocal laser scanning microscopy which reduces the efforts for obtaining chronologies of cell-structure measurements. First analyses have shown that such chronologies contain strong climate signals indicating the great potential for climate reconstructions for the temperate lowlands in Europe. Therefore, the core objective of this project is to develop multi-centennial chronologies of cell-structure measurements for NE-Germany and N-Poland, which will be utilized for long-term reconstructions. Subsequent analyses will examine the climate dynamics and underlying modes, such as the North Atlantic Oscillation by means of climate simulations.

New method of quantitative wood anatomy: first preparation of the sample surface by means of a microtome followed by digital acquisition of cell structures using confocal laser scanning microscopy.

Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Referat Naturwissenschaften/Dendrochronologie, Berlin, Deutschland (Karl-Uwe Heußner)
Nicolaus Copernicus Universität, Institute for the Study, Restoration and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Torun, Poland
University of Arizona, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, 1215 E Lowell St, Tucson, AZ 85721 USA (Tomasz Wazny)
Humboldt University Berlin, Geographisches Institut, Klimageographie, Berlin, Deutschland (Christoph Schneider)

German Research Foundation (DFG),  259353585

  • Liang, W., Heinrich, I., Simard, S., Helle, G., Dorado Liñán, I., Heinken, T. (2013): Climate signals derived from cell anatomy of Scots pine in NE Germany. Tree Physiology 33, 833-844.
  • Liang, W., Heinrich, I., Helle, G., Dorado Liñán, I., Heinken, T. (2013): Applying CLSM to increment core surfaces for histometric analyses: A novel advance in quantitative wood anatomy. Dendrochronologia 31, 140-145.
  • Martínez-Sancho, E., Dorado Liñán, I., Heinrich, I., Helle, G., Menzel, A. (2017): Xylem adjustment of sessile oak at its southern distribution limits. Tree Physiol 2017 1-12 | doi:10.1093/treephys/tpx036
  • Pritzkow C., Heinrich I., Grudd H., Helle G. (2014): Relationship between wood anatomy, tree-ring widths and wood density of Pinus sylvestris L. and climate at high latitudes in northern Sweden. Dendrochronologia 32, 295-302.
  • Pritzkow, C., Wazny, T., Heussner, K.‐U., Słowiński, M., Bieber, A., Dorado Liñán, I., Helle, G., Heinrich, I. (2016): Minimum winter temperature reconstruction from average earlywood vessel area of European oak (Quercus robur) in N‐Poland. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 449, 520‐530. |  doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.02.046
  • Ziaco, E., Biondi, F., Heinrich, I. (2016): Wood cellular dendroclimatology: testing new proxies in Great Basin Bristlecone Pine. Front. Plant Sci. 7, 1602. | doi:10.3389/fpls.2016.01602


Ingo Heinrich
Priv. Doz. Dr. Ingo Heinrich
Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution
Building C, Room 323
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1915