Developing a Tree-Ring Chronology for Reconstructing Past Climate Conditions, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, UT

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

David Wilkins


The Coral Pink Sand Dunes (CPSD) is one of the largest aeolian dune fields in the Colorado Plateau. Dune fields provide a harsh environment for vegetation to become established because of the shifting sands and limited soil moisture. In spite of this, in the CPSD a large, disjunct population of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) seemingly thrives within the active dune field. Using the record of growth patterns preserved in the tree rings, we hypothesize these can be used to reconstruct past climate and dune field activity by correlating measured ring-widths with regional climate variables. Here we present the development of a tree-ring chronology from cores collected from live ponderosas growing within the active dune field. Ring widths for each core sample were measured, and the composite measured series were statistically assessed by comparing each series with the master chronology that yielded an interseries correlation of 0.662 showing that the trees in this stand exhibit similarities in their responses to external factors. The climate growth-relationship is tested by correlating the standardized master chronology with precipitation data from a nearby climate reporting station in Kanab, UT. This yields a correlation coefficient of r=0.61, indicating that the climate signal in the rings is strong enough to be useful for future climate reconstructions.

This document is currently not available here.