Class 1, introduction to dendrochronology

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The annual growth rings from trees provide us with an incredibly powerful and adaptable tool to study Earth’s history. The rings tell us much more than just the age of tree. They also provide clues that help us understand how our environment has changed in the past, and provide insights into how key processes in atmosphere, biosphere and geological systems operate over long timescales.

This course will teach students the fundamental principles of dendrochronology through a combination of formal lectures, class discussion and laboratory exercises. Students will work in the University of Minnesota’s Center for Dendrochronology, where they will learn how to collect, prepare and date tree-ring specimens. By the end of the course, they will be able to explain both the key concepts underlying dendrochronology and discuss how evidence from tree rings is used to address contemporary issues in natural history, resource management and Earth Systems Science.

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Class 1, introduction to dendrochronology

  1. 1. I N T R O D U C T I O N TO D E N D R O C H R O N O LO GY
  2. 2. 2010 Dec-Nov temperature anomaly h p://www.giss.nasa.gov/
  3. 3. NASA global temperature record h p://www.giss.nasa.gov/
  4. 4. QUESTIONIs it unusual for the world to be this warm?
  5. 5. Water transfers in the American southwest Courtesy Glen MacDonald
  6. 6. Low reservoirPhotograph: Glen MacDonald
  7. 7. QUESTIONIs there enough water in the Colorado River to satisfy the expected need?
  8. 8. Photograph: watsonsinelgin
  9. 9. Photograph: Howard Arno
  10. 10. QUESTION When were these dwellingsconstructed (and abandoned) and why?
  11. 11. Photograph: Tom Swetnam
  12. 12. Photograph: WhineAndDine
  13. 13. QUESTIONHow does weather and climate affect the risk and severity of forest fires?
  14. 14. Red River ManitobaPhotograph: Greg Brooks
  15. 15. AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, Lt. Brendan Evans
  16. 16. QUESTIONHow often does the Red River produce extreme floods?
  17. 17. Tree at ChancellorsvillePhotograph: Andy Frasse o
  18. 18. Tree-ring display at elementary schoolPhotograph: Tom Swetnam
  19. 19. “ The trees composing the forest rejoice and lament with its successes and failures and carry year by year something of its story in their annual rings.” A. E. Douglass University of Arizona
  20. 20. Same environmental conditions Similar growth pa erns
  21. 21. 25
  22. 22. THE PRINCIPLE OF CROSS-DATING 1900 1910 1920 1930 Two Douglas-fir cores from Eldorado Canyon, COGraphic: Jeff Lukas, INSTAAR
  23. 23. Frost damage Photograph: Howard Arno Photo: Howard Arnott
  24. 24. Fire scars
  25. 25. The science of dendrochronology usesinformation encoded into the annual growth ringsof trees to address issues related to climatechange, hazards, ecology and natural history.
  26. 26. Giant sequoia 3,266 years Photograph: Chris Mullins Photo: Chris Mullins
  27. 27. Bristlecone pine 4,844 years Photograph: Tom Harlan
  28. 28. White pine 1714Photo: Kurt Kipfmueller
  29. 29. White cedar 1452Photo: Danny Margoles
  30. 30. I N T R O D U C T I O N TO D E N D R O C H R O N O LO GY
  31. 31. Fundamentals Tree-ring anatomy Photograph: Kevin Anchukaitis
  32. 32. Fundamentals Weather, climate and tree growth Photograph: dr_tim_1956
  33. 33. Fundamentals History of dendrochronology
  34. 34. Fundamentals Statistical tools for tree-ring analysis
  35. 35. Applications Drought risks Photograph: Library of Congress
  36. 36. Applications Fire ecology Photograph: Don Falk
  37. 37. Applications Natural hazards and landscape processes Photograph: Erica Bigio
  38. 38. Applications Forest ecology Photograph: Whitney Crawford
  39. 39. Applications Maritime archeology 43
  40. 40. I N T R O D U C T I O N TO D E N D R O C H R O N O LO GY
  41. 41. Who am I?
  42. 42. Tree-ring display at elementary school Photograph:Tom Swetnam
  43. 43. Photograph: Dave Sauchyn
  44. 44. Photo: Calvin Ferris Kurt Kipfmueller University of Minnesota
  45. 45. umndendro.umn.edu
  46. 46. GEOG3839 Nuts and boltsGEOG5839
  47. 47. Links to course syllabus, scheduleat h p://umn.edu/~stgeorge under ‘Teaching’
  48. 48. GRADING WEIGHTS GEOG3839Mid-term 30%Exercises (4) 40% GEOG5839Final exam 30% Mid-term 20% Exercises (4) 40% Project 40%
  49. 49. Trees are among the oldest living things on our planet. Many trees can live forseveral centuries and a few exceptional specimens have survived for morethan 5,000 years. In part because of their great age, the annual growth ringsfrom trees provide us with an incredibly powerful and adaptable tool to studyEarth’s history. The rings tell us much more than just a tree’s age. They alsoprovide clues that help us understand how our environment has changed inthe past, and provide insights into how key processes in atmosphere,biosphere and geological systems operate over long timescales.The science of dendrochronology uses information encoded into the annualgrowth rings of trees to address issues related to climate change, hazards,ecology and natural history. Because tree vitality is strongly influenced bylocal environmental conditions, major events such as a change in climate,insect a ack or severe flood o en create a distinct ‘fingerprint’ in the tree’srings. By studying these signatures in the rings, we can develop an annualrecord of past environmental events extending back several centuries ormillennia.
  50. 50. Links to course syllabus, scheduleat h p://umn.edu/~stgeorge under ‘Teaching’
  51. 51. Readings!Smith and Lewis (2006), Dendrochronology
  52. 52. What can you expect to learn?
  53. 53. DENDROCHRONOLOGY is much more than just counting tree rings

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