20 Oct 2021
20 Oct 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Climate signals in stable carbon and hydrogen isotopes of lignin methoxy groups from southern German beech trees

Anna Wieland1, Markus Greule1, Philipp Roemer2, Jan Esper2,3, and Frank Keppler1,4 Anna Wieland et al.
  • 1Institute of Earth Sciences, Heidelberg University, Im Neuenheimer Feld 234-236, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2Department of Geography, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, 55128 Mainz, Germany
  • 3Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CzechGlobe), 60300 Brno, Czech Republic
  • 4Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE), Heidelberg University, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

Abstract. Stable hydrogen and carbon isotope ratios of wood lignin methoxy groups (δ13CLM and δ2HLM values) have been shown to be reliable proxies of past temperature variations. Previous studies showed that δ2HLM values even work in temperate environments where classical tree-ring width and maximum latewood density measurements are less skilful. Here, we analyse annually resolved δ13CLM values from 1916–2015 of four beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) from a temperate site near Hohenpeißenberg in southern Germany and compare these data with regional to continental scale climate observations. Initial δ13CLM values were corrected for the Suess effect (a decrease of δ13C in atmospheric CO2) and physiological tree responses to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations considering a range of published discrimination factors. The calibration of δ13CLM chronologies against instrumental data reveals highest correlations with regional summer (r = 0.68) and mean annual temperatures (r = 0.66), as well as previous-year September to current-year August temperatures (r = 0.61), all calculated from 1916–2015 and reaching p < 0.001. Additional calibration trials using detrended δ13CLM values and climate data, to constrain effects of autocorrelation on significance levels, returned rsummer = 0.46 (p < 0.001), rannual = 0.25 (p < 0.05) and rprev.Sep–Aug = 0.18 (p > 0.05). The new δ13CLM chronologies were finally compared with previously produced δ2HLM values of the same trees to evaluate the additional gain of assessing past climate variability using a dual-isotope approach. Compared to δ13CLM, δ2HLM values correlates substantially stronger with large-scale temperatures averaged over western Europe (rprev.Sep–Aug = 0.69), whereas only weak and mainly insignificant correlations are obtained between precipitation and both isotope chronologies (δ13CLM and δ2HLM values). Our results indicate great potential of using δ13CLM values from temperate environments as a proxy for local temperatures, and in combination with δ2HLM values, to assess regional to sub-continental scale temperature patterns.

Anna Wieland et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2021-135', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 Feb 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Anna Wieland, 16 Mar 2022
      • RC3: 'Reply on AC1', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 May 2022
        • CC1: 'Reply on RC3', Frank Keppler, 10 May 2022
        • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Anna Wieland, 19 May 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on cp-2021-135', Anonymous Referee #2, 03 May 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Anna Wieland, 19 May 2022

Anna Wieland et al.

Anna Wieland et al.


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Short summary
We examined annually resolved stable carbon and hydrogen isotope ratios of wood lignin methoxy groups of beech trees growing in temperate, low elevation environments. Here, carbon isotope ratios reveal highest correlations with regional summer temperatures, while hydrogen isotope ratios correlate stronger with large-scale temperature changes. By combining the dual isotope ratios of wood lignin methoxy groups a proxy for regional to sub-continental scale temperature patterns can be applied.