They have deciphered the climate of the past 300 years in the Andes by analyzing tree rings

If we ask what information we can get from the rings on a tree trunk, most of us would probably not go so far as to say that they are useful for knowing the age of the tree in question. However, it turns out that tree trunks explain many other things, as a group of researchers from Harvard University saw Center for Environmental Research and Forest Applications –CREAF– and Columbia UniversityNew York.

Trunk rings of a specimen of “Polylepis tarapacana” (Ricardo Villalba)

These scientists analyzed the trunk rings of five-hundred-year-old specimens of ““Polylepis tarapacana”It is a species that lives at an altitude of more than 4000 meters and is long-lived. The specimens studied are found around the Otorunco ​​volcano in Bolivia, and are between 500 and 700 years old. They examined its thickness, but they also used a new technique to detect the ratioOxygen isotopes 16 and 18 Which trapped

Researcher Milagros Rodriguez works in the laboratory (Ricardo Villalba)

With this information, they were able to know the amount of rain that falls each year in that region and how long drought periods last.

Milagros Rodriguezone of the researchers involved inA study published in the journal NatureHe explains that they were able to compare the information obtained from the trees with the documents they found about the climate of the region: “There are coincidences with historical records of droughts. For example, a very severe drought has been documented throughout the year.” 1700 in Potosi, Bolivia, which did not allow silver mining in this area.”

Analysis of oxygen isotopes trapped in tree trunks also allowed this to be confirmed in this region every decade. Weather phenomena are frequent Which ultimately affects the rainfall system:

“These anomalies repeat themselves every 10 years in the form of more or less water cycles.”

According to the team of researchers, the results of this research will be very useful for better understanding the natural variability of rainfall and anticipating future scenarios. As trees do, scientists themselves explain this Coral I Glaciers They also have the planet’s climate history written inside. The challenge will now be to figure out how to decipher their language as well.

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