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North America, United States, USA - West

Tree Rings: Counting the Years of Global Warming

Author: Worksyn Productions
Grades: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Subjects: Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences
Format: YouTube Video
Resource Type:
  • Video, 7 minutes, 53 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • This video shows how dendrochronologists at the Big Sky Insitute collect core samples of living and dead trees and analyze the trees' rings to show how climate change impacts certain regions. 
  • Students will learn that tree line sites, the limit to where trees can grow, are ideal locations for scientists to collect data on the climate because the tree line changes as the climate changes. 
Teaching Tips
  • Students will enjoy seeing how scientists analyze and record data on the tree core samples.
  • The video shows the importance of collecting data to trace the effects of climate change.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This video was produced in 2004, so the technology shown in the laboratory footage may be outdated.
  • While the video content is informative, the video quality is mediocre.


  • Biology classes could look at samples of tree trunk circles to see how the rings are spaced differently from one another. This lesson shows students how to use a tree's rings to learn about historical climate conditions.
  • Life skills and career exploration classes could use this video as an example of scientists doing fieldwork and laboratory work.
  • Other resources on this topic include this artwork by Jill Pelto that shows how tree rings and other natural specimens can help scientists learn about the history of the climate and this video on using ice cores to learn about the climate of the past.
Scientist Notes
In the years since this video was produced, the study of tree rings has become even more important to our understanding of climate change. This video expertly explains the process of obtaining, documenting, and inferring information from tree ring cores. This resource is recommended for teaching. Teachers may want to tell their students that video was made before wide-screen and high-definition cameras were easily accessible.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • MS-LS4-1 Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-1 Develop a model to illustrate how Earth’s internal and surface processes operate at different spatial and temporal scales to form continental and ocean-floor features.
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