Last update: 8-02-2020

Tree-rings are an important tool for reconstructing and understanding past climatic variability.

In 1984, Malcolm Hughes of the Tree-Ring Laboratory of the University of Arizona, published in Nature a tree-ring (ring-width and maximum density) based reconstruction of Edinburgh summer temperature going back to the early 18th century. The original Scots pine trees were sampled in the 1970s (see Living data) and no update of this work was undertaken until recently. The original Hughes reconstruction is shown below showing the excellent calibration potential of this species in the Scottish Highlands. Although some success has already be made in finding older living sites (see Living data), the truly exciting work will be related to extension of the living material with either historical or sub-fossil material.


The spatial correlation plor below of Edinburgh mean temperatures against gridded HADCRUT4 data for the same JA season clearly shows the potential importance of such a summer temperature reconstruction for providing information of past climate for the NW European sector. Such a reconstruction will complement similar tree-ring based summer temperature reconstructions from Scandinavia, the Alps and the Pyrenees.

For more information, please read:

Wilson, R, Loader, N, Rydval, M, Paton, H, Frith, A, Mills, C, Crone, A, Edwards, C, Larsson, L & Gunnarson, B. (2011). Reconstructing Holocene climate from tree rings – the potential for a long chronology from the Scottish Highlands. The Holocene. 22 (1): 3-11. DOI: 10.1177/0959683611405237 [view PDF]