Many climate changes can be noted in a tree’s rings, including springtime temperature, amount of rainfall, or the placement of other nearby trees. However, it depends on the species of tree to see how the weather might affect it. SOme respond with wild growth while others are more sensitive. Noting history’s climate change in a certain are may be difficult to discern because it would be hard to isolate one particular reason why the tree grew more or didn’t. Additionally, if we could be certain of the reason a tree has more or less rings and how wide they are, the tree could only tell us the changes for as long as it has been alive.
Tree rings have a lot to tell us about the history of climate change, so much so that an entire branch of study — dendrochronology — has been devoted to deducing climate history from tree history.
For instance, wet seasons, colder climate cycles, and rainy years are recorded in wide rings; in contrast, dryer, hot growing seasons are recorded with thin, scraggly lines. Tree rings can also record pollution, wind levels, and soil properties through various blips, and so are not a perfect measure of climate history alone. Dendochronology’s real power comes from coordinating with other methods of natural climate records, such as ice core and geologic sampling (whereby glaciers and rock formations [respectively] are studied for their recorded reactions to climate change). All of these methods put together help to provide an increasingly complete picture of climate evolution and history.
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