Science Inventory

The importance of seasonal temperature and moisture patterns on growth of Douglas-fir in western Oregon, USA


BEEDLOW, P. A., E. LEE, D. T. TINGEY, R. S. WASCHMANN, AND C. A. BURDICK. The importance of seasonal temperature and moisture patterns on growth of Douglas-fir in western Oregon, USA. AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY. Elsevier Science Ltd, New York, NY, 169:174-185, (2013).


Altered seasonal climate patterns resulting from global climate change could affect the growth of coniferous forests in the North American Pacific Northwest. Climate models predict progressively warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers through the 21st century.


Douglas-fir growth in the Pacific Northwest is thought to be water limited. However, discerning the relative influence of air temperature and plant available soil water (W) on growth is difficult because they interact with each other, with other climate factors and with the inherent seasonal timing of cambial activity. Douglas-fir growth response to air temperature and W patterns during the growing season was examined using time series regression analysis of dendrometer data collected at approximately four-week intervals from 1998 through 2009. Five study sites were located in mature forest stands along an elevation gradient from the Pacific coast to the west slope of the Cascade Mountains (∼1200 m) in Oregon, USA. Maximum daily air temperature (T) and W were similar in relative importance to tree growth at four of the five sites. W was substantially more important at one site. Growth rate increased with T to an optimum (Topt) and decreased with higher T. At the two drier sites T and W affected growth interactively in that Topt decreased with decreasing W. We conclude that both T and W affect growth and that T consistently limits growth at three of the five sites and at all sites in years with above average summer temperature. Should climate change result in hotter summers in the region as predicted by climate models, we suggest that Douglas-fir will experience progressive temperature limitation.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 01/01/2013
Record Last Revised: 12/06/2012
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 236532