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FEATURE ARTICLE

Andrew Ellicott Douglass and the Big Trees

The Giant Sequoia was fundamental to the development of the science of dendrochronology—tree-ring dating

Donald McGraw

Figure 1. Andrew Ellicott DouglassClick to Enlarge Image

Andrew Ellicott Douglass, an astronomer, single-handedly invented the science of dedrochronology in order to further his research into the relation between sunspot cycles and climate. Although his lifelong search for that link proved fruitless, in the process he established all the major principles of tree-ring dating—including the value of long-lived trees such as the Giant Sequoia—and managed to determine the date of construction of Anasazi dwellings near Four Corners, Arizona. The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona is another of this remarkable scientist’s legacies.


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