Shifting Climate Sensitivities, Shifting Paradigms: Tree-Ring Science in a Dynamic World

  • Christine Biermann
  • Henri D. Grissino-Mayer


In the field of tree-ring science, findings of unstable growth responses by trees to climate have spurred self-reflection and generated debate, with significant implications for climate change politics, science, and discourse. To interrogate this issue, we bring together quantitative data on climate-growth relationships in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, and qualitative survey data on the practices and perspectives of tree-ring scientists. Our tree-ring data compel us to consider often-overlooked socioecological factors that may influence trees’ sensitivities to climate, including atmospheric pollution and historical changes in land use and ecosystem structure and function. Survey data contextualize our analyses within broader changes in the field, demonstrating that climate-growth relationships are increasingly understood as fluid, non-linear, and contingent rather than stable and fixed.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Biermann
    • 1
  • Henri D. Grissino-Mayer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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