ABSTRACT

Tucker, C.S.; Trepanier, J.C.; Harley, G.L., and DeLong, K.L., 2018. Recording Tropical Cyclone Activity from 1909 to 2014 along the Northern Gulf of Mexico using Maritime Slash Pine Trees (Pinus elliottii var. elliottii Engelm.).

The temporally incomplete tropical cyclone (TC) observational record limits the understanding of recurrence intervals and the impacts of repeated TCs on coastal ecosystems. Growth of maritime trees near the Gulf of Mexico may be affected by high winds, precipitation, and storm surges from TCs. Proxy records, such as tree growth recorded in annual ring widths, can be used to extend TC records temporally but must be verified with the observational record first. This study develops chronologies of total ring width (TRW), earlywood ring width (ERW), and latewood ring width (LRW) from slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. elliottii Engelm.) trees located 2 km from an open saltwater bay in the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in coastal Mississippi, U.S.A. These chronologies are compared with TC storm surge and wind speed records using superposed epoch analysis. The year after a TC occurrence, tree growth is significantly (p < 0.05) suppressed (narrower than average annual growth rings) for TRW, ERW, and LRW with respect to storm surge and shows no statistical significance with high wind speeds. Individual trees display suppression in growth for 1–6 years after TC occurrences. This study demonstrates that slash pine trees in close proximity to salt water can be used to produce chronologies of TC occurrences for the northern Gulf of Mexico region and thus can eventually be used to extended and supplement temporally the existing TC observational record.

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