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Tropical Dendrochronology Laboratory

Welcome to the Tropical Dendrochronology Laboratory

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The Tropical Dendrochronology Laboratory (TDL) specializes in developing proxies of past climate from the tree-rings and chemistry of tropical plants, including trees and cactus.  Dendrochronology uses the width and chemistry of tree-rings that grow in order over time (the oldest rings on the inside, the newest rings closest to the bark) to reconstruct that plant’s or site’s climate or life history. For columnar cactus that grow spines only from their tops, leaving the oldest spines at the bottom and the newest spines at the top, we use the chemistry of spines to find out how old the cactus is and also to deduce and model past climate (i.e. Acanthochronology). We are especially interested in long records of climate that show climate before CE 1850 (before weather instruments were widespread) and records from the tropics, an important region for many global climate features and a region where these records are relatively rare.

Bradd Witt (UQ) cutting wood discs from gidgee posts at the Ambathala Sheep Shed, SW Queensland

The TDL is supported by TESS and the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at JCU. Our laboratory has several pieces of specialized equipment to help us develop and understand tree-ring and cactus spine records.

At James Cook University, several academic and technical staff are involved in the development of tree-ring and cactus spine records. We also share information and collaborate with many experts from within Australia and around the world.

The TDL also administers the Australasian Dendrochronology Page on Facebook, a great source for current news and positions in tropical and Australasian dendrochronology.

Earth, trees and sky

Centre for Tropical Environmental & Sustainability Sciences

Twitter (@TESSJCU)