Tree-ring d18O in African mahogany (Entandrophragma utile) records regional precipitation and can be used for climate reconstructions

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Abstract

The availability of instrumental climate data in West and Central Africa is very restricted, both in space and time. This limits the understanding of the regional climate system and the monitoring of climate change and causes a need for proxies that allow the reconstruction of paleoclimatic variability. Here we show that oxygen isotope values (d18O) in tree rings of Entandrophragma utile from North-western Cameroon correlate to precipitation on a regional to sub-continental scale (1930–2009). All found correlations were negative, following the proposed recording of the ‘amount effect’ by trees in the tropics. The capacity of E. utile to record the variability of regional precipitation is also confirmed by the significant correlation of tree-ring d18O with river discharge data (1944–1983), outgoing longwave radiation (a proxy for cloud cover; 1974–2011) and sea surface salinity in the Gulf of Guinea (1950–2011). Furthermore, the high values in the d18O chronology from 1970 onwards coincide with the Sahel drought period. Given that E. utile presents clear annual growth rings, has a wide-spread distribution in tropical Africa and is long lived (> 250 years), we argue that the analysis of oxygen isotopes in growth rings of this species is a promising tool for the study of paleoclimatic variability during the last centuries in West and Central Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-66
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Volume127
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • oxygen-isotope ratios
  • tropical atlantic
  • west-africa
  • monsoon
  • growth
  • forest
  • chronologies
  • temperature
  • variability
  • salinity

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