Aspect affects radial growth rates of shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) under 21st Century warming conditions : a case study in the Uwharrie Mountains, North Carolina, USA

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Hunter Scott Lewis (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Paul Knapp

Abstract: This study examined the influence of significant 21st-century warming on the radial growth patterns of shortleaf pine growing on adjacent north- and south-facing slopes (hereafter NS and SS), in the Uwharrie Mountains of North Carolina, USA. Using two chronologies developed from old-growth trees dating back to the 18th century, I compared raw radial growth rates (hereafter radial growth) associated with earlywood, latewood, and totalwood during 1935–2020. Both chronologies exhibited near identical (r = .951, p<0.001) age-related growth decreases through the 20th century. However, beginning in the 21st century both chronologies exhibited abrupt increases in radial growth with less fidelity (r = .86, p<0.001), which correlated with the onset of warming mean annual temperatures (r = 0.58, p < 0.01) and warming winter temperatures (r = .55, p<0.05). These results show that 1) shortleaf pine growing on both NS and SS have experienced significant radial growth increases since the early 21st century, 2) that aspect affected growth rates and 3) warming mean winter minimum temperatures have contributed to the age-related growth trend reversal. During 2002–2020, NS radial growth increased (mm per year) for the EW (0.128), LW (0.15), and TW (0.277) chronologies at a faster rate than the SS chronologies suggesting that the effects of warming are more beneficial for NS trees. I conclude that these data show that old-growth shortleaf pine trees retain climatic sensitivity to significant environmental changes associated with a warming climate, which can reverse age-related growth declines that are affected by aspect.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
Aspect, Climate Change, Dendrochronology, Radial growth patterns, Raw ring widths, Shortleaf pine
Shortleaf pine $x Effect of global warming on $z North Carolina $z Uwharrie Mountains
Uwharrie Mountains (N.C.) $x Environmental conditions $y 21st century
Dendrochronology $z North Carolina $z Uwharrie Mountains

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