Bristlecone pine: photo by Art Oglesby
Bristlecone pine: photo by Art Oglesby

Hurricane evidence found in tree rings

Human records of hurricanes go back less than 100 years. Can we somehow look at nature's record of weather within tree rings?

The moisture carried by hurricanes carries a different ratio of oxygen-18 to oxygen-16 than the normal rain that trees absorb. When that moisture falls near a tree, it is absorbed, and that ratio of oxygen is reflected in that year's ring.
Comparing the tree-ring data to the National Weather Service data over a 50-year period, the tree-ring data showed only one year in which their data reported a hurricane that was not in the list of recorded storms. Tennessee Today

Two University of Tennessee professors, Claudia Mora and Henri Grissino-Mayer, noted that this opens the door for research to go back even further than 220 years, as older trees are discovered in hurricane-prone areas, perhaps as old as 500 years.


Too bad bristlecone pines don't grow in the hurricane zones. The tree ring record in bristcones go back over 7000 years. Dendrochrology is the dating of past events (climatic changes) through study of tree ring growth. If you want to look tree rings of various trees, come to Collections Gallery at the Science Museum of Minnesota. We have one tree slice with 522 rings.

Abstract of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences article

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Molly's picture
Molly says:

I think that is very interesting cause I knew that forest fires would show up but I had no clue that hurracians would show up.

posted on Wed, 10/04/2006 - 4:17pm
Beestung2's picture
Beestung2 says:

4,500 plus years you say? Hurricane? Heavy storming?

Sure looks like the results of a lot of flooding to me.
Is there any evidence that alluding to perhaps the
White Mountains being under water around that time?

posted on Thu, 01/15/2009 - 8:41am

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