Dendrology is the science of the study of trees. Oftentimes, tree rings will be studied in order to understand the environmental effects that shaped the tree’s existence. Tree rings can communicate a great amount of data, based on their density, quantity, color, and other factors.
Climate data is one of the more recent discoveries that has been made in the field of dendrology. Here are a couple of examples of ancient trees informing us about climate trends over time.
- Ancient Bristlecone Pines are often studied by dendrologists, due to their extremely long life-spans. Such Pines in the Western U.S. do indicate evidence of a warming climate over the last fifty years or so. Here is a link to NASA’s page on the topic.
- Sub-fossil Pines preserved in lake bottoms in Finnish Lapland have been studied for the climate data their trees rings provide. These trees have dated as far back as 138 BC, and show a general cooling trend over the past two thousand years, beginning with periods of warmth, but interrupted by a little ice age and other climate anomalies.
- An ancient Kauri tree in New Zealand was unearthed after spending millennia under several meters of soil. It’s tree rings show an incredible record of the reversal of the earth’s magnetic field, an event that would have allowed significantly higher solar radiation into the atmosphere, potentially causing massive extinction on earth.