By Michelle Orgel
How can trees give us information about environmental history? We worked with dendrochronologist, Daniel Griffin about his research and findings among the subject.
“Dendrochronology is the study of annual growth increments in trees as a metric for understanding environmental history. So if we break out the word dendrochronology, dendro- means tree, -chrono- is time and -ology is the study of, so it’s the study of time through trees.”
Tree ring data can be used to determine many different key factors of climate change by counting the number of rings on a tree. Each year, trees add a new ring, meaning that each year can tell us something new. Here is Griffin to explain more...
“We can use tree rings to understand something about past environmental history, because the tree actually records as set of information about what was going on in the environment from one season and one year to the next.”
Griffin’s job is to study dendroclimatology, in which he uses historical and yearly information about trees to answer various questions in regards to climate changes and patterns. An good example of his work is his study of trees in dry locations, specifying with trees that are on the edge of existence. From these trees, he is able to tell the amounts of variation in soil moisture among many years. One major reason why he targets California is because of the climate. California’s climate is dominated by a variability in moisture. A region that experiences much of this are the Oak Woodlands, where there is a low elevation of grasslands, this being a fundamental area for his and his team’s research in order to help them learn about past droughts.
Much thanks to Griffin and his outstanding work. For more information about Griffin and his studies, please visit https://sites.google.com/a/umn.edu/daniel-griffin/