Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Comment
  • Published:

Improved tree-ring archives will support earth-system science

A steep decline in archiving could make large tree-ring datasets irrelevant. But increased spatiotemporal coverage, the addition of novel parameters at sub-annual resolution, and integration with other in situ and remote Earth observations will elevate tree-ring data as an essential component of global-change research.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: The coverage of satellite and tree-ring records since 1950.


  1. Charney, N. D. et al. Ecol. Lett. 19, 1119–1128 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Beck, P. S. A. et al. Ecol. Lett. 14, 373–379 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Anderegg, W. R. L. et al. Science 349, 528–532 (2015).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Frank, D. C. et al. Nat. Clim. Change 5, 579–583 (2015).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Babst, F. et al. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 22, 706–717 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Cuny, H. E. et al. Nat. Plants 1, 15160 (2015).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Larson, E. R. et al. Tree-Ring Res. 69, 21–27 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Zhu, Z. et al. Nat. Clim. Change 6, 791–795 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Delpierre, N. et al. New Phytol. 210, 459–470 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Clark, J. S. et al. Ecol. Appl. 17, 1943–1953 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Li, G. et al. Biogeosciences 11, 6711–6724 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Brienen, R. J. W. et al. Trop. Tree Physiol. 6, 439–461 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Jansma, E. et al. Dendrochronologia 28, 99–130 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Williams, J. W., Jackson, S. T. & Kutzbach, J. E. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 5738–5742 (2007).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Shao, J. et al. J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosci. 121, 1372–1393 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We acknowledge funding from the EU-H2020 program (grant 640176, ‘Detecting changes in essential ecosystem and biodiversity properties — towards a Biosphere Atmosphere Change Index: BACI’) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (#P300P2_154543). We thank all ITRDB contributors, advisors and curators, and K. Seftigen, J. Björklund, A. Babst-Kostecka, M. E. K. Evans, and O. Bouriaud for fruitful discussions.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Flurin Babst.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Babst, F., Poulter, B., Bodesheim, P. et al. Improved tree-ring archives will support earth-system science. Nat Ecol Evol 1, 0008 (2017).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing