Blue is the fashion in Mediterranean pines: New drought signals from tree-ring density in southern Europe

Linar Akhmetzyanov*, Raúl Sánchez-Salguero, Ignacio García-González, Marta Domínguez-Delmás, Ute Sass-Klaassen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Long-term records of tree-ring width (TRW), latewood maximum density (MXD) and blue intensity (BI) measurements on conifers have been largely used to develop high-resolution temperature reconstructions in cool temperate forests. However, the potential of latewood blue intensity (LWBI), less commonly used earlywood blue intensity (EWBI), and delta (difference between EWBI and LWBI, dBI) blue intensity in Mediterranean tree species is still unexplored. Here we developed BI chronologies in moist-elevation limits of the most southwestern European distribution of Pinus nigra subsp. salzmanii Arnold. We tested whether BI variables derived from tree rings of black pine are better proxies than ring-width variables to reconstruct long-term changes in climatic factors and water availability. For this we applied correlations and regression analyses with daily and monthly climate data, a spatial and temporal drought index (Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index-SPEI) and Vapour Pressure Deficit (VPD), as well as atmospheric circulation patterns: North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and Western Mediterranean Oscillation (WeMO). We found a positive relation between black pine growth (RW) and temperature during the winter preceding the growing season. Among all variables LWBI and dBI were found to be more sensitive than TRW to SPEI at low-elevation site, with EWBI series containing an opposite climatic signal. LWBI and dBI were significantly related to June and September precipitation at high-elevation site. Winter VPD was related with higher EWI and LWI series, whereas dBI and EWBI were related with January SOI and February NAO. We confirm the potential of long-term dBI series to reconstruct climate in drought-prone regions. This novel study in combination with other wood anatomical measurements has wide implications for further use of BI to understand and reconstruct environmental changes in Mediterranean conifer forests.

Original languageEnglish
Article number159291
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2023


  • Blue intensity
  • Climate change
  • Climatology
  • Dendroecology
  • Pinus nigra
  • Tree-rings
  • Dendrolab


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