Paleoclimatic Inferences from Long Tree-Ring Records

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Science  15 Mar 1974:
Vol. 183, Issue 4129, pp. 1043-1048
DOI: 10.1126/science.183.4129.1043


Tree-ring data contribute to a better understanding of the nature of past climatic variations. Annual ring records several thousand years long can be constructed for a few areas, but interpretation of them requires the development of new approaches. For example, a single record of average ring width in the upper tree line environment provides a guide to past temperature fluctuations. However, comparison of this record with another, that of the arid lower forest border, from the same area permits characterization of associated precipitation and temperature anomalies that may, in turn, be linked to features of the general circulation. Other approaches that promise to be very fruitful include study of the variation of ring-width statistics through time, investigation of the physical and chemical properties of wood, and combined multivariate analysis of data for a variety of paleoclimatic indicators.