Tree-ring growth records from bristlecone pines reveal an irregular pattern of fluctuations that have been linked to climatic change but otherwise have remained poorly understood. We find within these records evidence for a temporally related variance to mean power law, 1/f noise and multifractality that empirically resembles a fractal stochastic process and could be attributed to self-organized criticality. These growth records, however, also conformed to a non-Gaussian statistical distribution (the Tweedie compound Poisson distribution) characterized by an inherent variance to mean power law, that by itself implies 1/f noise. This distribution has a fundamental role in statistical theory as a focus of convergence for many types of random data, much like the Gaussian distribution has with the central limit theorem. The growth records were also multifractal, with the dimensional exponent of the Tweedie distribution critically balanced near the transition point between fractal stochastic processes and gamma distributed data, possibly consequent to a related convergence effect. Non-Gaussian random systems, like those related to bristlecone pine tree growth, may express 1/f noise and multifractality through mathematical convergence effects alone, without the dynamical assumptions of self-organized criticality.
↵† In memory of Prof. Bent Jørgensen (1954–2015) on whose work this study was based.
- Received July 24, 2016.
- Accepted January 18, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.