Using a combination of 23 radiocarbon ages and annual ring counts from 18 Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata) remnants above the local present-day limits, a period of higher treeline has been determined for two sites near the Continental Divide in central Colorado. The highest remnants were found about 30 m above live bristlecone pines of similar size. The majority of the remnants, consisting of standing snags, large logs, and smaller remains, are highly eroded, such that the innermost annual rings of all but one are missing. The radiocarbon ages obtained from the oldest wood recovered from each remnant indicate that the majority were established above the present-day limit of bristlecone pine from prior to 2700 cal. yr BP to no later than about 1200 cal. yr BP. These radiocarbon ages combined with the annual ring count from the corresponding remnant indicate that the majority of the sampled remnants grew above the present-day limit of bristlecone pine from sometime before 2700 cal. yr BP to about 800 cal. yr BP. Evidence of recent climatic warming is demonstrated at one of the sites by young bristlecone pine saplings growing next to the highest remnants; the saplings were established after AD 1965 and represent the highest advance of treeline in at least 1200 years.
|Title||Evidence of a higher late-Holocene treeline along the Continental Divide in central Colorado|
|Authors||Paul E. Carrara, John McGeehin|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||The Holocene|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center|