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Air pollution and environmental chemistry – what role for tree-ring studies?

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Tree-rings are a unique source of long-term data and have often been used in studies aimed at understanding and quantifying the impact of air pollution on forests. A variety of approaches have been used, ranging from traditional dendrochronology to studies focussing on the chemical and physical properties of tree-rings. However, there are some issues to be considered when attempting to use tree-rings as a response indicator in air pollution studies and when inferences over large geographical scales are being made. These issues include the inherent ambiguity of tree-ring width as indicator of air pollution effects, the absence of reference data, the problems associated with integrating traditional dendrochronology with more complex ecosystem studies and the relatively poor attention paid to sound statistical design in some air pollution impact studies. Together with progress in specific disciplines like climatology, biochemistry, genetics, tree physiology, tree nutrition and soil science, the interdisciplinary and international collaboration in the analysis of environmental effects on tree growth will increase the research potential of tree-rings.

Keywords: Tree-rings; air pollution; dendrochemistry; needle trace method; stable isotopes

Document Type: Miscellaneous


Affiliations: LINNÆA ambiente Srl, Firenze, ItalyDept. of Forest Resources Management, University of British Columbia, Forest Sciences Centre 2045, Vancouver, BC, CanadaMETLA, Rovaniemi Research Station, Rovaniemi, FinlandPaul Scherrer Institute, Villigen PSI, SwitzerlandForest Research Station Baden-Württenberg, Dept. Soil Science and Forest Nutrition, Freiburg, GermanyInstitut für Waldwachstum, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

Publication date: August 1, 2002


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