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Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2017 Oct 15;31(19):1589-1598. doi: 10.1002/rcm.7938.

Warm season precipitation signal in δ2 H values of wood lignin methoxyl groups from high elevation larch trees in Switzerland.

Author information

Institute of Geography, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Johann-Joachim-Becher-Weg 21, 55128, Mainz, Germany.
Institute of Geosciences, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Johann-Joachim-Becher-Weg 21, 55128, Mainz, Germany.
Institute of Earth Sciences, Heidelberg University, Im Neuenheimer Feld 236, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Hahn-Meitner-Weg 1, 55128, Mainz, Germany.
Paul Scherrer Institute, OFLA/109, 5232 Villingen, Switzerland.



In this study, we tested stable hydrogen isotope ratios of wood lignin methoxyl groups (δ2 Hmethoxyl values) as a palaeoclimate proxy in dendrochronology. This is a quite new method in the field of dendrochronology and the sample preparation is much simpler than the methods used before to measure δ2 H values from wood.


We measured δ2 Hmethoxyl values in high elevation larch trees (Larix decidua Mill.) from Simplon Valley (southern Switzerland). Thirty-seven larch trees were sampled and five individuals analysed for their δ2 Hmethoxyl values at annual (1971-2009) and pentadal resolution (1746-2009). The δ2 Hmethoxyl values were measured as CH3 I released upon treatment of the dried wood samples with hydroiodic acid. 10-90 μL from the head-space were injected into the gas chromatography/high-temperature conversion/isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC/HTC-IRMS) system.


Testing the climate response of the δ2 Hmethoxyl values, the annually resolved series show a positive correlation of r = 0.60 with June/July precipitation. The pentadally resolved δ2 Hmethoxyl series do not show any significant correlation to climate parameters.


Increased precipitation during June and July, which are on average warm and relatively dry months, results in higher δ2 H values of the xylem water and, therefore, higher δ2 H values in the lignin methoxyl groups. Therefore, we suggest that δ2 Hmethoxyl values of high elevation larch trees might serve as a summer precipitation proxy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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