Title: Zapis zanieczyszczenia powietrza w przyrostach rocznych drzew = The record of air pollution in tree rings


Duszyński, Filip

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Przegląd Geograficzny T. 86 z. 3 (2014)



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24 cm

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The aim of this review has been to describe the phenomenon of the dendrochronological recording of air pollution. Special emphasis was placed on: (1) summarising relevant studies conducted previously both in Poland and abroad, (2) highlighting the research techniques applied most commonly, and (3) presenting the basic physiological and morphological consequences of the exposure of plants to harmful chemical substances present in the air. Although the problem of growth–ring reductions to industrial emissions has gained frequent investigation (e.g. Danek, 2007; Szychowska-Krąpiec, 2009; Malik et al., 2011, 2012), this paper would seem to represent a first attempt to review the achievements of the method in the Polishliterature.The dendrochronological method is widely regarded as the most precise dating technique in the Earth Sciences (e.g. Gärtner, 2007). As the final width of a single tree-ring refl ects both genetics and certain external factors, it is possible to make reference to rings in studying the spatial and temporal differentiation characteristic of various environmental phenomena. Since the 1970s, it has become clear that air pollution episodes may be recorded effectively in tree-ring series. Such chemical substances as sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, fluorides and ozone are all toxic to plants, inasmuch as that they individually and collectively exert a negative influence on key physiological processes. They are thus responsible for patterns of reduced growth that can be dated with the year-to-year accuracy by means of dendrochronological techniques.Over the last forty years, much work around the world has been devoted to the above problem. Most has focused on study of the impact of harmful gaseous substances emitted from such point sources as smelters (e.g. Sutherland and Martin, 1990; Nojd and Reams, 1996) or fertiliser factories (e.g. Evertsen et al., 1986; Stravinskiene et al., 2013). Beyond that, some works haverepresented a broader approach researching air pollution impacts on a regional or international scale (e.g. Danek, 2007; Elling et al., 2009). In each case, the results reveal a more or less serious reduction of tree-rings corresponding well with periods of low air quality.The range of techniques gaining application in the studies described has been wide, though in the main it is the more complex ones that have generated more precise and reliable results. The simplest method is based on visual assessment of a curve showing the width of tree-rings over time. Visible, persisting low values combined with knowledge of the activity of some factory in the vicinity can lead to the drawing of conclusions as regards the causal relationship. Much fi eldwork is tailored to the sampling of reference (control) sites, not affected by air pollutants. Data from the study and the reference site are then compared using different statistical methods. Narrower rings formed by trees growing at the study site are taken to confirm thepresence of a phenomenon reflecting emissions from local industry. Another method, proposed by Schweingruber et al. (1985), is based on the analysis of characteristic years and abrupt growth changes.


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oai:rcin.org.pl:49077 ; 0033-2143 ; 10.7163/PrzG.2014.3.2


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Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences

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Central Library of Geography and Environmental Protection. Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization PAS

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Programme Innovative Economy, 2010-2014, Priority Axis 2. R&D infrastructure ; European Union. European Regional Development Fund



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