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Anna Maria Jönsson


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Partly decoupled tree-ring width and leaf phenology response to 20th century temperature change in Sweden


  • Petter Stridbeck
  • Jesper Björklund
  • Mauricio Fuentes
  • Björn E. Gunnarson
  • Anna Maria Jönsson
  • Hans W. Linderholm
  • Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist
  • Cecilia Olsson
  • David Rayner
  • Eva Rocha
  • Peng Zhang
  • Kristina Seftigen

Summary, in English

The recent warming trend, and associated shifts in growing season length, challenge the principle of uniformitarianism, i.e., that current relations are persistent over time, and complicates the uncritical inferences of past climate from tree-ring data. Here we conduct a comparison between tree-ring width chronologies of Pinus sylvestris L. (Scots pine), Picea abies (L.) Karst. (Norway spruce) and Betula pubescens Ehrh. (Downy birch) and phenological observations (budburst and leaf senescence) of Fagus sylvatica L. (European beech), Quercus robur L. (European oak), Betula sp. (Birch), Norway spruce and Scots pine) in Sweden to assess to what extent the tree-ring width–temperature relationship and the timing of phenological phases are affected by increased temperature. Daily meteorological observations confirm a prolongation of the thermal growing season, most consistently observed as an earlier onset of around 1–2 weeks since the beginning of the 20th century. Observations of budburst closely mimic this pattern, with budburst of the deciduous trees occurring 1–2.5 weeks earlier. In contrast to the changes seen in phenology and observational temperature data, the tree-ring width–temperature relationships remain surprisingly stable throughout the 20th century. Norway spruce, Scots pine and Downy birch all show consistently significant correlations with at least one 30 day-long window of temperature starting in late June–early July season. Norway spruce displays the largest degree of stability, with a consistent 60 day-long temperature window with significant correlation starting around Julian calendar day 150. Thus, our results suggest that the principle of uniformitarianism is not violated during the period covered by modern meteorological observations. Further research is needed to determine at what thresholds the temperature sensitivity of these species may alter or deteriorate as a consequence of the ongoing climate change.


  • Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year








Document type

Journal article




  • Physical Geography
  • Climate Research


  • Budburst
  • Dendroclimatology
  • Phenological observations
  • Sweden
  • Thermal growing season
  • Tree-ring width




  • ISSN: 1125-7865