International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 62, Issue 5, pp 795–808 | Cite as

Urban climate modifies tree growth in Berlin

  • Jens Dahlhausen
  • Thomas Rötzer
  • Peter Biber
  • Enno Uhl
  • Hans Pretzsch
Original Paper


Climate, e.g., air temperature and precipitation, differs strongly between urban and peripheral areas, which causes diverse life conditions for trees. In order to compare tree growth, we sampled in total 252 small-leaved lime trees (Tilia cordata Mill) in the city of Berlin along a gradient from the city center to the surroundings. By means of increment cores, we are able to trace back their growth for the last 50 to 100 years. A general growth trend can be shown by comparing recent basal area growth with estimates from extrapolating a growth function that had been fitted with growth data from earlier years. Estimating a linear model, we show that air temperature and precipitation significantly influence tree growth within the last 20 years. Under consideration of housing density, the results reveal that higher air temperature and less precipitation led to higher growth rates in high-dense areas, but not in low-dense areas. In addition, our data reveal a significantly higher variance of the ring width index in areas with medium housing density compared to low housing density, but no temporal trend. Transferring the results to forest stands, climate change is expected to lead to higher tree growth rates.


Urban heat island effect Growth trend Urban trees Lime trees 



Thanks to the AUDI Environmental Foundation for funding the project Response of urban trees on climate change and the City Ministry of Berlin, especially the several district offices, for the allowance of coring and measuring trees and for supporting the search of the trees. We acknowledge the German Weather Service (DWD) for providing us climate data. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful criticism.

Supplementary material

484_2017_1481_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (541 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 541 kb)
484_2017_1481_MOESM2_ESM.docx (16 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© ISB 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jens Dahlhausen
    • 1
  • Thomas Rötzer
    • 1
  • Peter Biber
    • 1
  • Enno Uhl
    • 1
  • Hans Pretzsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Center of Life and Food Sciences WeihenstephanTechnical University of MunichFreisingGermany

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