When a tree in our yard died, we were initially very sad.  It was a beautiful conifer.  With risk of dead trees and fire danger, we quickly worked to get it cut down.  Then we discovered a fun family project.  We could count the rings!   And even better, we observed variations in the width of the rings.  The variations in the width begged the question:  What affects how fast trees grow?  We started to research dendrochronology – the science of tree ring growth and dendroclimatology – climatic factors that affect the annual tree growth.  

We counted 37 rings and measured each ring width.  We graphed many, many different climate parameters to tree ring width.  We discovered that 3 parameters showed relationships to tree ring width.  These climate factors were annual snowfall, maximum June temperature, and average June precipitation.   The data is shown in graphs below:  A) the tree ring width over time; B) annual snowfall versus tree ring width; C) maximum June temperature versus tree ring width D) average June precipitation.  

 

 

The data in the graphs above suggests that trees grow well during years with more snowfall and June rain, but do not grow as well when temperatures are high in June.

Our complete write-up with an activity for kids (at the end) is included here. Emerald_Mt_Tree_Ring_Data Analysis