History of Tree-Ring Research. Dendrochronology. dendron (= “tree”) chronos (= “time”) - logy (= the study of).
Dendrochronology: The science that uses tree rings dated to their exact year of formation to analyze temporal and spatial patterns of processes in the physical and cultural sciences.
“Rings in the branches of sawed trees show the number of years and, according to their thickness, the years which were more or less dry. Thus, they reflect the individual worlds to which they belong, in the north [of Italy] they are much thicker than in the south.”
Duhamel du Monceau, H.-L., and Comte de Buffon, G.L.L. 1737. Recherches de la cause de l\'excentricité des couches ligneuses qu\'on appercoit quand on coupe horizontalement le tronc d\'un arbre; de l\'inégalité d\'épaisseur, and du different nombre de ces couches, tant dans le bois formé que dans l\'aubier. [Investigations into the cause of the eccentricity of the woody layers that one observes when the trunk of a tree is horizontally cut; inequality in thickness, of different numbers of these layers, as well as the wood formed in the sapwood.] In: P. Mortier, ed., Histoires de l\'Académie Royale des Sciences Année 1737, avec les Mémoires de Mathématique & de Physique, pour la meme Année. Amsterdam: 171-191.
Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau
Twining, A.C. 1833. On the growth of timber. American Journal of Science and Arts 24: 391-393.
“Every tree had preserved a record of the seasons, for the whole period of its growth…might not this natural, unerring, graphical record of seasons past, deserve as careful preservation as a curious mineral or a new form of crystals?”
“Such a comparison… might prove the means of carrying back our knowledge of the seasons, through a period coeval with the age of the oldest forest trees.”
1839-1901 Professor at Forest Academy, Eberswalde Germany
“Fraget die Bäume! Besser als alle Bücherweisheit werden sie euch sagen, wie sie behandelt sein wollen.” -- 1853, in Uber die Entwicklung des Jahresringes der Holzpflanzen
Botanist interested in forest growth = silviculture
1805-1880 Professor of Forestry Sciences at the University of Berlin
Campbell, T.N. 1949. The pioneer tree-ring work of Jacob Kuechler. Tree-Ring Bulletin 15(3): 16-20.
Kuechler was a forester from Germany, settled in Texas in 1847.
“Our records are of such recent date that we must turn to the annals of Nature, particularly of the plant world. A tree contains the record of its life history, and this history is most closely interwoven with the annual rainfall.”
Used post oak trees (Quercus stellata) that 125 years later proved to be critical for understanding past climate in the south-central U.S.
Noted repeating patterns of dry years and wet years in the ring record.
John Muir (1838–1914)
is regarded as the “father” of
Dendrochronology. Douglass was a
student of the famous astronomer
Percival Lowell who, in 1894, sent
Douglass across the country to
build an observatory in Arizona.
While acquiring the timber for the
Douglass noticed similar ring-width
patterns in the stumps of the trees
cut for construction.
By the early 1920s, Douglass had
pioneered the science of dendro-
chronology, most importantly,
the principle of crossdating which
he applied to a variety of different
disciplines from climatology to
astronomy to archaeology.
Douglass, A.E. 1929. The secret of the southwest solved by talkative tree rings. National Geographic Magazine 56(6):736-770.
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research Tucson, Arizona 1940
Douglass at Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, 1941
John Muir (1838 – 1914)
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research Tucson, Arizona 1941
Fred Scantling, Sid Stallings, A.E. Douglass, Edmund Schulman, James Louis Giddings 1946
Edmund Schulman, Sid Stallings, A.E. Douglass, Fred Scantling, James Louis Giddings 1946