What connects a series of volcanic eruptions and severe summer cooling with a century of pandemics, human migration and the rise and fall of civilisations? Tree rings, says Ulf Büntgen, who leads Cambridge’s first dedicated tree-ring laboratory at the Department of Geography.
An international group of researchers has dated a large volcanic eruption in Iceland to within a few months. The eruption, which is the oldest volcanic eruption to be precisely dated at high northern latitudes, occurred shortly before the first permanent human settlements were established, when parts of the now mostly treeless island were still covered with forest.
New research shows the sudden oak death epidemic in California cannot now be stopped, but that its tremendous ecological and economic impacts could have been greatly reduced if control had been started earlier. The research also identifies new strategies to enhance control of future epidemics, including identifying where and how to fell trees, as “there will be a next time”.
Ash dieback, caused by the Chalara fungus, prompts re-evaluation of current protocols to protect UK trees and other plants; taskforce recommends threats to plant health be taken as seriously as animal disease