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Comparison of Sea Level Pressure Reconstructions from Western North American Tree Rings with a Proxy Record of Winter Severity in Japan

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  • a Institute for Quaternary Studies, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469
  • | b Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721
  • | c Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, U.K.
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Abstract

Reconstructions of winter (December-February) sea level pressure (SLP) from western North American tree-ring chronologies are compared with a proxy record of winter severity in Japan derived from the historically documented freeze dates of Lake Suwa. The SLP reconstructions extend from 1602 to 1961 and freeze dates from 1443 to 1954. The instrumental and reconstructed SLP for the 20th century reveal two distinct circulation regimes (teleconnection patterns) over the North Pacific that appear to be associated with severe and mild winters and, consequently, with early and late freezing of the lake. The reconstructed SLP anomaly map for severe winters prior to 1683 shows a pattern similar to those in the instrumental and reconstructed records of the 20th century. The analysis reveals that the reliability of the reconstruction may vary with the configuration of the actual SLP pattern as the mild winter pattern is not as well reconstructed as the severe winter pattern. That result illustrates the importance of testing the reliability of a reconstruction within the context of the intended interpretation. This analysis demonstrates how different types of proxy climate data can be compared and verified.

Abstract

Reconstructions of winter (December-February) sea level pressure (SLP) from western North American tree-ring chronologies are compared with a proxy record of winter severity in Japan derived from the historically documented freeze dates of Lake Suwa. The SLP reconstructions extend from 1602 to 1961 and freeze dates from 1443 to 1954. The instrumental and reconstructed SLP for the 20th century reveal two distinct circulation regimes (teleconnection patterns) over the North Pacific that appear to be associated with severe and mild winters and, consequently, with early and late freezing of the lake. The reconstructed SLP anomaly map for severe winters prior to 1683 shows a pattern similar to those in the instrumental and reconstructed records of the 20th century. The analysis reveals that the reliability of the reconstruction may vary with the configuration of the actual SLP pattern as the mild winter pattern is not as well reconstructed as the severe winter pattern. That result illustrates the importance of testing the reliability of a reconstruction within the context of the intended interpretation. This analysis demonstrates how different types of proxy climate data can be compared and verified.

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