Tree Rings Tell Tales of Ancient Fires and Climate

Tom Swetnam says tree rings tell the tale of how climate, fire and people interacted hundreds and thousands of years ago. Today that interaction continues, and Swetnam says climate change is causing earlier snowmelt—which can lead to bigger, hotter blazes. Brett Fay joins to talk about predicting the movements of a wildfire.

Segment Guests

Brett Fay

Brett Fay is an assistant fire management coordinator in the Pacific Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He is based in Portland, Oregon.

Tom Swetnam

Tom Swetnam is a professor of dendrochronology and director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.