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Ring widths of Rhododendron shrubs reveal a persistent winter warming in the central Himalaya

First Author: Panthi S
Abstract: Himalayan Mountains provide unique opportunities for the extension of shrub-ring based dendroclimatology beyond the upper tree limit. However, little is known about limiting climate factors of shrub growth under harsh environmental conditions. We established a new ring-width chronology of a Himalayan shrub rhododendron (Rhododendron campanulatum D. Don) at the upper Krummholz treeline in the Mt. Gaurishankar massif, central Himalaya, Nepal. Bootstrapped correlation analysis showed positive relationships between radial growth and temperatures of all months from previous November to current October. Correlations were the highest with winter (December-February) minimum temperature (r = 0.781, p < 0.001), indicating that radial growth of R. campanulatum is strongly sensitive to winter minimum temperature. The linear regression model explained 61 % of the actual winter minimum temperature variance during the calibration period 1960–2013. Periods of low and high minimum winter temperatures in the central Himalaya were consistent with cool and warm episodes found by other regional winter temperature reconstructions from the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. Spatial correlation analysis with land surface temperatures revealed the spatial representativeness of our reconstruction for a larger geographical territory over the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. Furthermore, winter temperature in the central Himalaya is teleconnected with the December-February India-Burma trough. The persistent increasing winter temperature in recent decades in the central Himalaya coincides with continental-scale warming. Alpine vegetation in humid regions of the Himalayas may benefit from winter warming via an earlier start and extension of the growing season, as long as moisture availability is sufficient.
Contact the author: Fan ZX
Page Number: 125799
Impact Factor: 2.293
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PubYear: Feb 2021
Volume: 65
Publication Name: Dendrochronologia
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