The area covered by boreal forests accounts for ~16% of the global and 22% of the Northern Hemisphere landmass. Changes in the productivity and functioning of this circumpolar biome not only have strong effects on species composition and diversity at regional to larger scales, but also on the Earth’s carbon cycle. Although temporal inconsistency in the response of tree growth to temperature has been reported from some locations at the higher northern latitudes, a systematic dendroecological network assessment is still missing for most of the boreal zone. Here, we analyze the geographical patterns of changes in summer temperature and precipitation across northern Eurasia >60 °N since 1951 AD, as well as the growth trends and climate responses of 445 Pinus, Larixand Picea ring width chronologies in the same area and period. In contrast to widespread summer warming, fluctuations in precipitation and tree growth are spatially more diverse and overall less distinct. Although the influence of summer temperature on ring formation is increasing with latitude and distinct moisture effects are restricted to a few southern locations, growth sensitivity to June–July temperature variability is only significant at 16.6% of all sites (p ≤ 0.01). By revealing complex climate constraints on the productivity of Eurasia’s northern forests, our results question the a priorisuitability of boreal tree-ring width chronologies for reconstructing summer temperatures. This study further emphasizes regional climate differences and their role on the dynamics of boreal ecosystems, and also underlines the importance of free data access to facilitate the compilation and evaluation of massively replicated and updated dendroecological networks.
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