Tree-ring Narratives of Environmental Change

from the Arctic to the Tropics

Laia Andreu-Hayles

Associate Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University


Thursday, April 19 at 12:00 pm

David Friend Hall, Yale Peabody Museum

Light lunch will be served


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. 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 with sustainable resource management design, considering natural climate fluctuations along with changes in societal needs.


Co-sponsored by the Yale Anthropology Department, the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and the Yale Peabody Museum