Ancient Trees Reveal Environmental Histories

March 24, 2011
Part of the 2011 Public Lecture Series

Featuring

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Adjunct Assistant Professor

Evidence from old-growth trees and ancient timbers recov­ered from homes and barns in the eastern U.S. and Hudson Valley region suggests that the climate and ecology of the previous four centuries may not have been as temperate as once thought. Using dendrochronology, or tree ring analysis, researchers at Lamont-Doherty now see that great droughts have sculpted current old-growth forests. Significant insight has been achieved through the use of certain trees, like the tulip poplar, which provide much longer records than previ­ously thought. Though climate in this region is characteris­tically humid and temperate, research suggests that water availability is an important driver of forest dynamics.