Highlights: Height increment-climate relationships of Scots pine were assessed using dendrochronological techniques; Annual height increment was significantly affected by climatic factors; In western Latvia, temperature in preceding summer mainly affected height increment; In eastern Latvia height increment was affected by previous autumn temperature; During the 20th century, the effect of climatic factors has altered likely dues to climate change.
Height growth of trees is a crucial parameter that influences the composition and productivity of forest stands and quality of timber; however, the relationships between annual height increment (HI) and climatic factors have been poorly studied. In this study, the effect of monthly mean temperature and precipitation sums on the HI of Scots pine in two sites in Latvia have been determined using dendrochronological techniques. Correlation and response function analyses were conducted for entire chronologies of HI and for 50-year intervals within them. Climatic factors significantly affected the HI of Scots pine; however, not only did the suite of significant factors differ between the sites, but the influence of these factors changed during the 20th century. In the site in western Latvia where climate is milder, temperature in the preceding summer was the main climatic determinant of HI. The effect of temperature in the dormant period and spring was significant during the first part of the 20th century, while the effect of temperature in the previous September and November has become significant since the second half of the 20th century. In the site in eastern Latvia where summers are hotter, HI has been affected by both temperature and water deficit related factors in the summer. However, since the later part of the 20th century, the effect of temperature in the previous October has intensified and become the main climatic determinant of HI.