‘Lord of the Tree Rings’ Peers Into the Past

BY Jenny Marder  April 1, 2011 at 12:15 PM EST


There’s an interactive spirit at the University of Arkansas’ department of geosciences, where dendochronologist David Stahle encourages visitors to touch a cross-section of a redwood tree.

In the latest Science Nation series for the National Science Foundation*, NewsHour Science correspondent Miles O’Brien describes how scientists like Stahle can learn the history of African bloodwoods, redwoods and bald cypress trees by studying their growth rings.

“The climate history encoded in the annual rings of trees is unique, it’s like fingerprinting,” Stahle says.

And deciphering the history of drought in these rings, Miles explains, may help scientists prepare for future dry spells and ecosystem needs.

Find more from the Science Nation series here.

  • For the record, the National Science Foundation is an underwriter of the NewsHour.