‘Tree Story’ explores what tree rings can tell us about the past

Monday, June 1, 2020 - 09:00 in Paleontology & Archaeology

Tree StoryValerie TrouetJohns Hopkins Univ., $27 Once you look at trees through the eyes of a dendrochronologist, you never quite see the leafy wonders the same way again. Peel away the hard, rough bark and there is a living document, history recorded in rings of wood cells. Each tree ring pattern of growth is unique, as the width of a ring depends on how much water was available that year. By comparing and compiling databases of these “fingerprints” from many different trees in many different parts of the world, scientists can peer into past climates, past ecosystems and even past civilizations. Humans’ and trees’ histories have long been intertwined. In her new book Tree Story, tree ring researcher Valerie Trouet examines this shared past as she describes the curious, convoluted history of dendrochronology. It’s a field that was born a little over a century ago, almost as a hobby for an astronomer...

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