SITE VISIT: Tree-Ring Circus

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Science  07 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5378, pp. 747
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5378.747d

Way back before there was a National Weather Service, trees were keeping faithful records of rainfall and temperature, outbreaks of pesky bugs, and charring fires. The Ultimate Tree-Ring Web Pages (∼grissino) serves up an exhaustive supply of info on how tree-ring researchers, known woodenly as dendrochronologists, unlock the environmental histories hidden in the rings of trees.

The site's offerings range from a primer on dendrochronology and advice on the best chain saws, to countless links to tree-ring articles, research labs, jobs, lessons for elementary school students, and more— all reviewed by site developer Henri Grissino-Mayer of Valdosta State University in Georgia. The merely curious might start with the huge bibliography and the photo gallery of telltale trees and tree rings (complete with quiz). Delving deeper, one can access a discussion forum about the field, or the International Tree-Ring Data Bank—paleoclimate data from 1500 sites in more than 50 countries—and other climate and botany databases. Grissino-Mayer also posts news articles: Recently, for example, tree-ring studies in Virginia suggested that severe drought may have done in the Lost Colony, the first New World settlement by the English (Science, 24 April, p. 564).

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