Microclimatic Variability of Cold-Season Minimum Temperatures in Michigan, United States: A Study with Implications for Insect Mortality
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Microclimatic Variability of Cold-Season Minimum Temperatures in Michigan, United States: A Study with Implications for Insect Mortality

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
  • Description:
    Gridded climate datasets are used by researchers and practitioners in many disciplines, including forest ecology, agriculture, and entomology. However, such datasets are generally unable to account for microclimatic variability, particularly within sites or among individual trees. One such dataset is a recent climatology of extreme minimum temperatures in the U.S. Great Lakes region, based on the Parameter–Elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) gridded temperature dataset. Development of this climatology was motivated by interest in the spatiotemporal variability of winter temperatures potentially lethal to the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) (Adelges tsugae Annand) (Hemiptera: Adelgidae), an invasive insect that causes mortality of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). In this study, cold-season daily minimum temperatures were monitored at six Michigan sites varying in latitude, elevation, Great Lakes proximity, and HWA infestation status, to address two objectives. First, we documented the spatiotemporal variability in daily minimum air temperatures recorded at multiple aspects and heights on selected hemlock trees. Second, this variability was characterized in the context of the PRISM extreme minimum temperature climatology. Tree-sensor air temperatures exhibited minimal relationships with aspect but considerable sensitivity to height. Daily minimum temperatures were higher for some tree sensors positioned ≤ 0.2 m above ground level during some time periods, with overall muted temporal variability, relative to an adjacent ambient sensor. This phenomenon was attributed to the insulating effects of snow cover, because the tree–ambient sensor temperature difference was positively correlated with snow depth. Overall, results indicate that such unresolved variability warrants consideration by gridded climate dataset users.
  • Source:
    Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 62(9), 1187-1203
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