Tree rings helps forecast extreme climate

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 17, 2013 04:40 hrs

Sydney, Feb 17 (IANS) An analysis of tree-rings can enable scientists to get an insight into the past and forecast extreme weather events.

For instance, tree rings may yield insights into the past 400 years of drought and flood in tropical parts of Queensland, and may help forecast future extreme weather events.

James Cook University's Nathan English said that it had been believed that because of the rapid growth of trees in the tropics, their rings did not reveal reliable information.

But English, from James Cook Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, has been working on forecasting the future of flood and drought using multi-century tree-ring and isotope chronologies from the tropics, according to a James Cook statement.

Tree-rings, also known as growth rings or annual rings, can be seen in a horizontal cross section cut through the trunk of a tree.

The rings result from the change in the tree's speed of growth through the seasons of the year. Usually, one ring marks the passage of one year in the life of the tree.

The rings are more visible in temperate zones, where the seasons differ more markedly.

According to English, dendrochronology, or tree-ring science, was more difficult to study in the tropics.

"Now we are having a second look at tropical trees for dendrochronology because we're finding more and more tree species with good, annual rings, which are formed during wet-dry seasons, and the tropics are an important part of the global climate system," he said.

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