Cover image for Tree story : the history of the world written in rings
Tree story : the history of the world written in rings
Physical Description:
246 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
"This book tells engaging stories about the science of dendrochronology, the study of tree growth rings. From studying tree rings, scientists can learn about the past climate on earth, and sometimes tree-ring data provide evidence of natural events that affected human history. Connecting natural history (as read through tree rings) to human history is at the heart of this book"--


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Book 582.16 TRO 0 1

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Children around the world know that to tell how old a tree is, you count its rings. Few people, however, know that research into tree rings has also made amazing contributions to our understanding of Earth's climate history and its influences on human civilization over the past 2,000 years. In her captivating new book, Tree Story , Valerie Trouet reveals how the seemingly simple and relatively familiar concept of counting tree rings has inspired far-reaching scientific breakthroughs that illuminate the complex interactions between nature and people.

Trouet, a leading tree-ring scientist, takes us out into the field, from remote African villages to radioactive Russian forests, offering readers an insider's look at tree-ring research, a discipline formally known as dendrochronology. Tracing her own professional journey while exploring dendrochronology's history and applications, Trouet describes the basics of how tell-tale tree cores are collected and dated with ring-by-ring precision, explaining the unexpected and momentous insights we've gained from the resulting samples.

Blending popular science, travelogue, and cultural history, Tree Story highlights exciting findings of tree-ring research, including the fate of lost pirate treasure, successful strategies for surviving California wildfire, the secret to Genghis Khan's victories, the connection between Egyptian pharaohs and volcanoes, and even the role of olives in the fall of Rome. These fascinating tales are deftly woven together to show us how dendrochronology sheds light on global climate dynamics and uncovers the clear links between humans and our leafy neighbors. Trouet delights us with her dedication to the tangible appeal of studying trees, a discipline that has taken her to austere and beautiful landscapes around the globe and has enabled scientists to solve long-pondered mysteries of Earth and its human inhabitants.

Author Notes

Valerie Trouet is an associate professor in the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Trouet (Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, Univ. of Arizona) demonstrates how dendrochronology can be used to identify natural events and how that correlates with our human history. For example, a narrow tree ring indicates a dry year, explaining how something like a drought prompted a mass migration. Tree rings can also show how global warming is quickening. Yet, rather than lingering on the negative, Trouet celebrates the scientific processes and discoveries of her work and that of her colleagues, such as collaborative investigations of everything from stalagmites to sunken Spanish ships that pair with environmental events such as volcanic activity, hurricanes, snow droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, and forest fires. Trouet writes that the purpose of this book is to excite people about science, and she succeeds by creating an engaging, credible work sprinkled with anecdotes. VERDICT With this brief, accessible look at the wisdom of tree rings, Trouet draws readers into a narrative that clearly displays her joy for her work and offers some fun with word play. [For a fictional account about the significance of trees in our lives, see Michael Christie's novel Greenwood, reviewed on p. 81.--Ed.]--Elissa Cooper, Helen Plum Memorial Lib., Lombard, IL

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
1 Trees in the Desertp. 8
2 I Count the Rings Down in Africap. 22
3 Adonis, Methusaleh, and Prometheusp. 29
4 And the Tree Was Happyp. 41
5 The Stone Age, the Plague, and Shipwrecks under the Cityp. 55
6 The Hockey Stick Poster Childp. 66
7 Wind of Changep. 76
8 Winter Is Comingp. 92
9 Three Tree-Ring Scientists Walk into a Barp. 99
10 Ghosts, Orphans, and Extraterrestrialsp. 113
11 Disintegration, or The Fall of Romep. 129
12 It's the End of the World as We Know Itp. 139
13 Once upon a Time in the Westp. 151
14 Will the Wind Ever Remember?p. 165
15 After the Gold Rushp. 181
16 The Forest for the Treesp. 198
Playlistp. 211
List of Tree Speciesp. 213
Recommended Readingp. 215
Glossaryp. 217
Bibliographyp. 225
Acknowledgmentsp. 237
Indexp. 239