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Annual growth patterns in tree trunks, called tree rings, can indicate when warm, cold, dry or wet spells occurred, as these alter growth. Scientists can tap into this potential data by analysing the rings, a method known as dendrochronology.
By studying tree trunks, Aster Gebrekirstos, a scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, has reconstructed 70 years of climate data from East Africa and 100 years from West Africa. In this audio interview, she explains how dendrochronology can fill the gaps in historical climate data in Sub-Saharan Africa, and provide new evidence about seasonal weather cycles.