Lord of the Tree Rings

via Science Nation

Trees are outstanding historians. In fact, scientists dating back to Leonardo da Vinci recognized the value of trees. While others had figured out that you could determine the age of a tree by counting its growth rings, da Vinci went beyond that basic knowledge.

“He was a genius and realized also that the width of those growth rings carried information about the environmental conditions during each year the rings were formed,” says David Stahle, director of the Tree Ring Laboratory at the University of Arkansas.

“So, he really anticipated the entire science of dendrochronology using annual growth rings from trees to infer past environmental variability, especially climate variability,” continues Stahle, a professor in the university’s Geosciences Department. “The time series of fat rings versus skinny rings is telling you about the history of wet years versus dry years.”



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