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IELTS reading passage –The Ring Cycle
The Ring Cycle
A. You can’t always see the forest for the trees in the scientific weeds. However, the wood itself can occasionally hold the key to climate change. Imagine a record of the amount of sunlight, rain, and frost that occurs each year, updated with near-perfect accuracy almost everywhere south of the tundra and north of the tropics, and accessible for review not only at any time during life but, quite frequently, for centuries after death. Of course, the tree’s annual growth rings serve as the register. When you compare the rings of young trees with those of old forest giants, you can determine how the seasons have changed over many years. Old cathedral rafters and tree rings can be combined to create an even longer chronology — and a science called dendrochronology.
B. By carefully overlapping the patterns of wide and narrow rings in fortunately older timber specimens, scientists have successfully constructed long tree rings. Dendrochronologists are those researchers who focus on the development of tree rings. In addition, there are approximately 12 or more chronologists with a combined age of more than 5,000 years. These annual records of how the trees responded to their growth conditions are an environmental history from the trees’ point of view. They are typically made in a small area using a single species of tree.
C. Dendrochronologists have historically tended to think locally because tree-ring chronologies are built on a regional scale. However, there are now quite a few chronologies available for study as a result of dendrochronology’s success as a field of study on a global scale. It is possible to compare the records from different areas year by year because the chronologies are dated absolutely. Recently, a study of 383 modern chronologies that were collected from a wide region of northern Eurasia, North America, and Europe was published. Majority density of the late wood of the growth rings in each year was associated with the temperature in the growing season and this was observed by the authors, Keith, Briffa, and the colleagues. Their investigation went back 600 years, to AD 1400, and produced a reconstruction of a summer temperature record using a vast grid of precisely dated ring densities.What they discovered was that, according to historical accounts and dated acid layers in the Greenland ice record, the years with extremely low density and cool summers were directly correlated with large explosive eruptions. Since the compressed snowfall of tens of thousands of years is contained within kilometres of Greenland ice, the ice record can be interpreted in a manner similar to that of tree rings. To demonstrate what else tree rings can tell us, I’ll use this study as an example. D. A year-by-year estimate of temperatures is given in the study, along with the dates of some significant volcanoes. The explanation is simple: as volcanic eruptions add dust and aerosol to the atmosphere, they reflect sunlight back into space, cooling the earth’s surface. In northern conifers, this cooling causes variations in the density of growth rings. The results from the conifer density record can be put to the test because there are numerous other records.
E. For instance, we can examine the behaviour of European oak during the same 600-year period. Had oak reacted similarly to the conifers? The “oak chronology” is the mean of eight localised oak chronologies that were studied in a region that stretched from Ireland to Poland. It depicts the typical growth pattern of hundreds of millions of oak trees. This comparison reveals that, in some instances—such as in 1602, 1740, and 1816—the oaks clearly react to the eruptions of volcanoes, but not always. It is immediately clear that the conifers only provide a portion of the story. Only a small number of the declines in oak growth can be linked to the conifer record. In years when the conifers were unaffected, the oaks were quite capable of taking more stress. The purpose of this, however, is not to debate the merits of global cooling; rather, it is to demonstrate the capabilities of dendrochronology.
F. Consider the year 1816, which is known as the “year without a summer” due to the extreme cold and subsequent crop failures. It has long been understood that Tambora’s enormous 1815 eruption, which was located to the east of Java, was the main reason for the cooling. However, in the years leading up to 1816, there was a lot more activity. Bald cypress trees in Tennessee exhibit a significant growth anomaly with growth rings that are up to 400 percent wider than average in the years after a significant earthquake that struck Eastern America in 1811–1812. However, there is a layer of volcanic acid in several Greenland and Antarctic ice cores from 1809–10 and 1815–16. We therefore have a combination of at least two volcanic eruptions, including Tambora, which is widely regarded as the largest in the last 10,000 years, and a highly unusual earthquake in a region of the USA not typically affected by earthquakes. We start to see a combination of three unusual elements in less than ten years — an exceptional earthquake, an exceptional volcanic eruption, and an exceptional cold. According to Briffa, the period between 1810 and 20 was the coldest in the last millennium. Given that ‘General Winter’ is famously credited with stopping Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, one wonders if a natural sequence of events actually played a role in altering the course of modern history.
G. It goes without saying that the case of 1816 and the years immediately prior to and following it are recent and well-documented. Dendrochronology, on the other hand, enables us to examine the effects of such events globally and geographically. Where there is no historical or instrumental record, we can question the trees. Dendrochronology can reconstruct abrupt environmental events further back in time and may even shed light on much darker periods in human history. In the Dark Ages, were political forces the only factors at play, or did violent natural disasters also have an impact, tipping the scales by lowering the temperature and darkening the skies? It goes without saying that the case of 1816 and the years immediately prior to and following it are recent and well-documented. Dendrochronology, on the other hand, enables us to examine the effects of such events globally and geographically. Where there is no historical or instrumental record, we can question the trees. Dendrochronology can reconstruct abrupt environmental events further back in time and may even shed light on much darker periods in human history. In the Dark Ages, were political forces the only factors at play, or did violent natural disasters also have an impact, tipping the scales by lowering the temperature and darkening the skies?
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The Ring Cycle Reading Questions
Choose the correct letters A, B, C or D.
1. What did the expansion of research to the European oak lead to?
A. It supplemented the knowledge gained from studying conifers.
B. It went against every conclusion drawn from the research on conifers.
C. The results were identical to those for conifers.
D. It demonstrated how much the world has cooled since 1400 AD.
2. Which of the following was the result of eruption at Tambora?
A. Agriculture output significantly decreased.
B. An earthquake occurred in North America.
C. The polar ice caps partially melted.
D. A war’s outcome was altered.
3. Studying tree rings can lead to the discovery of?
A. Completely new era in human history.
B. Documentation of alleged events.
C. The way in which earlier societies treated the environment.
D. The truth about the nature of religious belief.
4. A suitable title for this passage would be
A. How earthquakes and volcanoes affected history
B. How trees affect the climate of the world
C. How trees have impacted human history
D. The historical significance of trees
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Reading passage has seven paragraphs A—G. Choose the most suitable headings for paragraphs B—G from the list of headings below.
List of headings
i. Taking a look at a specific decade
ii. studying ice-covered trees
iii. combining research from several sources
iv. Records from various species are compared.
v. Dendrochronology: what it is
vi. Climate affected by a war
vii. How trees record volcanic activity is demonstrated
viii. A special document from earlier eras and locations
ix. Thousands of years have been covered by the local records
x. Formation of the tree rings
Example: Paragraph A
5. Paragraph B
6. Paragraph C
7. Paragraph D
8. Paragraph E
9. Paragraph F
10. Paragraph G
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Which THREE of the following are features of dendrochronology?
A. It offers a thorough record of the weather in any location on earth.
B. It involves examining the ring structures of trees of various ages.
C. An old piece of wood that was cut can be included in the record.
D. According to studies, all trees of the same type have an equal number of rings.
E. It has been studied as a science for more than 5,000 years.
F. The earliest records mainly concern one kind of tree in one location.
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The Ring Cycle Reading Answers
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