Tree Rings Simulation - Dendrochronology

Tree rings can help us learn about climate conditions in the past. Trees grow a new layer each year, which looks like a ring in the cross section of a tree trunk. The thickness of each tree ring tells us how much the tree grew during that year. The amount of tree growth each year is dependent upon climate conditions such as moisture and temperature. Use the simulation to decode past climate with tree ring patterns.

  • Choose a scenario from the options below. 
  • Select climate conditions (moisture, temperature) and then select Grow New Ring to match the tree ring pattern.
  • Use the Help button (with the "?" on it) to view tips and suggestions for each scenario.

Some Limitations of this Tree Ring Model

"All models are wrong... some models are useful." - George E.P. Box

  • Real tree ring cross-sections are not perfectly circular (and centered), or even symmetric, like the ones in this model.
  • Different types of trees have different responses in their growth rates to temperature and precipitation. Some thrive in warm conditions, while others grow quickly when it is especially wet.
  • Other variables (besides temperature and precipitation) influence growth rates of trees.
  • Real trees have a central section called the "pith"; this model starts right in with the first annual ring instead.

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