Climate Dynamics

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 211–222 | Cite as

Temperature histories from tree rings and corals

  • Edward R Cook


Recent temperature trends in long tree-ring and coral proxy temperature histories are evaluated and compared in an effort to objectively determine how anomalous twentieth century temperature changes have been. These histories mostly reflect regional variations in summer warmth from the tree rings and annual warmth from the corals. In the Northern Hemisphere, the North American tree-ring temperature histories and those from the north Polar Urals, covering the past 1000 or more years, indicate that the twentieth century has been anomalously warm relative to the past. In contrast, the tree-ring history from northern Fennoscandia indicates that summer temperatures during the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ were probably warmer on average than those than during this century. In the Southern Hemisphere, the tree-ring temperature histories from South America show no indication of recent warming, which is in accordance with local instrumental records. In contrast, the tree-ring records from Tasmania and New Zealand indicate that the twentieth century has been unusually warm particularly since 1960. The coral temperature histories from the Galapagos Islands and the Great Barrier Reef are in broad agreement with the tree-ring temperature histories in those sectors, with the former showing recent cooling and the latter showing recent warming that may be unprecedented. Overall, the regional temperature histories evaluated here broadly support the larger-scale evidence for anomalous twentieth century warming based on instrumental records. However, this warming cannot be confirmed as an unprecedented event in all regions.


Tree Ring Great Barrier Reef Temperature History North Polar Instrumental Record 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward R Cook
    • 1
  1. 1.Tree-Ring LaboratoryLamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryPalisadesUSA

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