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Reconstructing past Hawaiian precipitation using stable carbon isotope analysis of Māmane trees


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We analyzed the chemical composition of wood produced by Māmane, a tropical tree growing in Hawai’i, in order to reconstruct changes in climate over the Hawaiian Islands. Specifically, we measured changes in the relative abundance of carbon and oxygen isotopes taken up by the trees during photosynthesis at high elevation sites on Mauna Kea. We found that these isotopes reflect the climatic conditions (precipitation and temperature) under which the trees lived, allowing us to reconstruct relative changes in climate extending back ~130 years. Our results indicate decadal-scale changes in precipitation that correlate well with large-scale atmospheric and ocean circulation patterns that dominate much of the Pacific. In addition, we interpret [...]

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Principal Investigator :
Brian Schubert

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