Tree ring dating definition

Modified with permission from Global Change: Time and Cycles, Department of the Interior, U. Students will be able to recognize the direct impact of climate on annual tree growth patterns. In this activity, students will use pre-marked paper strips to simulate tree-ring core samples to help them understand that data for past climate changes can be gathered from sources beyond long-term weather observations.Background Trees contain some of nature's most accurate evidence of the past.Their growth layers, appearing as rings in the cross section of the tree trunk, record evidence of floods, droughts, insect attacks, lightning strikes, and even earthquakes.Each year, a tree adds to its girth, the new growth being called a tree ring.Tree growth depends upon local conditions such as water availability.Because the amount of water available to the tree varies from year to year, scientists can use tree-ring patterns to reconstruct regional patterns of drought and climatic change.This field of study, known as dendrochronology, was begun in the early 1900s by an American astronomer named Andrew Ellicott Douglass.

Drought or a severe winter can cause narrower rings.If the rings are a consistent width throughout the tree, the climate was the same year after year.By counting the rings of a tree, we can pretty accurately determine the age and health of the tree and the growing season of each year.Modern dendrochronologists seldom cut down a tree to analyze its rings.

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