Tree-ring narratives of environmental change from the Arctic to the tropics with Laia Andreu-Hayles

by | Jul 27, 2023 | Marine and Terrestrial Biology, Tree Ring Studies

Laia is a Lamont Associate Research Professor in the Division of Biology and Paleo-Environment and member of the Tree-Ring Lab. Her Fields of interest range from Dendroclimatology, Paleoclimatology and Ecology in Mediterranean, to Boreal and Tropical ecosystems. You can read more about her background and work at

Introductory slide show (pptx) (pdf)

Youtube video of this session

Current anthropogenic environmental changes are indisputable and are strongly impacting the Earth’s climatic system, ecosystem services, and water resources, while potentially jeopardizing the well-being of human populations worldwide. While the highest rates of increasing temperatures across the planet are occurring in the Artic and sub-artic regions, little is known about how the tropical forests, a stockpile of carbon and greatly affected by deforestation, are responding to global warming. In mid-latitudes, places in the Mediterranean or inner Asia are predicted to suffer even higher warming trends than those observed today. Historic changes in past climate have been associated with the demise of civilizations, expansion of Empires, technological developments, infrastructure destruction, and other relevant issues for societies. It is therefore paramount that we provide a knowledge-based understanding of this global change in a long-term context. Tree rings record interactions between the atmosphere and the biosphere, and thus, are exceptional sources of information on the Earth’s environmental history. This presentation will show several case studies of how tree rings can inform us about environmental changes using parameters such as ring-width, carbon (d13C) and oxygen (d18O) stable isotopes, radiocarbon (14C) and Blue Intensity (BI). BI is a less expensive and labor-intensive tool than the classical proxy for density. The study sites are located in a diverse range of ecosystems from the boreal forest of Alaska to the tropical Andes of South America, and the temperate mesic forests of the northeastern U.S. to pine forests of the Iberian Peninsula. Lessons from the past learned from tree rings can aid to design a sustainable management of natural resources taking into account natural climate fluctuations in conjunction with changes in societal needs.

Main Projects Funding this Research

NSF AGS #1702789
Collaborative Research: Reconstructing South American monsoon sensitivity to internal and external forcing: reconciling models and tree-ring proxies in the Central Andes

NSF OPP # 1737788 AWD_ID=1737788&HistoricalAwards=false
Collaborative Research: Climate, human and ecosystem interactions in the face of a rapidly changing North Asian biome

Additional Resources

“Learning from Tree Rings” with Nicole Davi (2003)

“Tree Rings and Climate Change” with Nicole Davi (2005)

“Transects and Tree Rings at LDEO” with Brendan Buckley (2008)

“Droughts, Dzud, and Archeology in Mongolia: A Tree Ring Perspective” with Nicole Davi (2011)

“Trees, Climate, and Societal Relevance: A Case Study in Mongolia” with Caroline Leland and Mukund Palat Rao (2014)

“More than How Old? Understanding Climate Changes from Tree Rings” with Mukund Palat Rao, Daniel Bishop, and Rose Oelkers (2017)

Scientific Papers

Andreu-Hayles, Laia and Levesque, Mathieu and Martin-Benito, Dario and Huang, Wei and Harris, Ryan and Oelkers, Rose and Leland, Caroline and Martin-Fernández, Javier and Anchukaitis, Kevin J. and Helle, Gerhard “A high yield cellulose extraction system for small whole wood samples and dual measurement of carbon and oxygen stable isotopes” Chemical Geology , v.504 , 2019 Details

Silva, Vivian B.S. and Kousky, V.E. The southern Monsoon System: Cliamtology amnd Variability

Readings and Activities

Tree Rings and Dendrochronology: Science Project for Kids

Past Climates: Tree Thermometers, Commodities, and People

by Leona Marshall Libby

Tree Rings Simulation – Dendrochronology | UCAR Center for Science Education