Isotopic Tree Thermometers and The Heinsohn Horizon

Isotopic Tree Thermometers

In 1976 Leona Libby introduced the world to Isotopic Tree Thermometers.

Libby showed that the atmospheric ratio of stable hydrogen and oxygen isotopes is preserved in tree-rings and demonstrated that this isotopic ratio is determined by atmospheric temperatures [at the time of formation].

Evidence is summarised here that trees store a record of atmospheric temperature in their rings.

In each ring, the ratios of the stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen vary with the air temperature prevailing when the ring was formed.

Isotopic Tree Thermometers
Leona Marshall Libby, Louis J Pandolfi, Patrick H Payton, John Marshall III, Bernd Becker and V Giertz-Sienbenlist
Nature 261, 284 – 288 – 27 May 1976
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JC081i036p06377/abstract

The results were impressive.

Thus we have had the temerity to measure German oak rings which grew before thermometers were available.

In Fig. 1 we show warm intervals at AD 1530, 1580 and 1650 and cold periods at about AD 1700 and 1800, in agreement with Bergthorsson’s deductions of climate variations in Iceland, and in agreement with the historical evidence of severe climate deterioration in the First and Second Little Ice Ages in Europe.

Isotopic Tree Thermometers
Leona Marshall Libby, Louis J Pandolfi, Patrick H Payton, John Marshall III, Bernd Becker and V Giertz-Sienbenlist
Nature 261, 284 – 288 – 27 May 1976

Even Mike Baillie was impressed by Libby’s results.

The ratio of 16O to 18O in wood cellulose in theory holds the best hope for temperature reconstruction.

One study on German oak produced a reconstructed temperature curve so similar to the Central England Temperature curve as to be almost unbelievable (Libby et al. 1976).

Dendrochronology and Past Environmental Change
M. G. L. Baillie
Palaeoecology Centre, The Queen’s University, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK
Proceedings of the British Academy, 11, 5-23
http://www.britac.ac.uk/pubs/proc/files/77p005.pdf
Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 77
New Developments in Archaeological Science
Edited by A M Pollard
Volume published 1992
http://www.britac.ac.uk/pubs/proc/volumes/pba77.html

The isotopic information Libby extracted from an Old Japanese Cedar indicated that temperatures have fallen by about 1.5 °C in the last 1,800 years.

We have shown that the temperature records in three modern trees seem to follow the local mercury thermometer records, and have found that a Japanese cedar indicates a temperature fall of ~1.5°C in the past 1,800 yr.

Isotopic Tree Thermometers
Leona Marshall Libby, Louis J Pandolfi, Patrick H Payton, John Marshall III, Bernd Becker and V Giertz-Sienbenlist
Nature 261, 284 – 288 – 27 May 1976
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JC081i036p06377/abstract

Libby’s result broadly supports the view that the Roman Warm Period [250 BC to 400 AD] “peaked around 150 AD at 2° C warmer than today” and [more interestingly] suggests the Roman Warm Period was not limited to Europe and the North Atlantic.

The Roman Warm Period peaked around 150 AD at 2° C warmer than today.

See: The Roman Warm Period
https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/the-roman-warm-period/

The isotopic data extracted from this Old Japanese Cedar is particularly interesting because the Heinsohn Horizon in the 930s AD is clearly identifiable [especially in the δD values].

Further, we have measured an old Japanese cedar, Cryptomeria japonica or Yaku-Sugi (the 14C in the rings of which were measured by Kigoshi), for both hydrogen and oxygen isotope ratios.

Kigoshi counted the rings of this tree and verified the count by making 50 radiocarbon datings on them.

Ten dates were made on the oldest part of the tree, each to an accuracy of ±100 yr, for the years counted as AD 137-537.

The accuracy of his count in the oldest part is thus substantiated to an accuracy of ±100/√10 or ±30 yr, by the radiocarbon evidence.

Isotopic Tree Thermometers
Leona Marshall Libby, Louis J Pandolfi, Patrick H Payton, John Marshall III, Bernd Becker and V Giertz-Sienbenlist
Nature 261, 284 – 288 – 27 May 1976
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JC081i036p06377/abstract

Japanese Cedar 1800 Year Isotopic Record.

The Heinsohn Horizon marks a clear step change in the δD values of the Old Japanese Cedar and clearly supports R. R. Newton’s observation that the Earth-Moon system experienced a ‘square wave’ in the accelerations that lasted from about 700-1300.

However, based upon his assembled data R. R. Newton observed [back in 1972] that it “shows strongly” that the Earth-Moon system experienced “a ‘square wave’ in the accelerations that lasted from about 700–1300”.

R R Newtons Square Wave
Empirico-Statistical Analysis of Narrative Material and its Applications to Historical Dating – Volume 1 – The Development of the Statistical Tools
A T Fomenko – Translated by O Efimov
Kluwer Academic Publishers – 1994 – The Netherlands
http://www.chronologia.org/en/es_analysis1/index.html

Heinsohn and The Eclipse Record
https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/heinsohn-and-the-eclipse-record/

The δD values of the Old Japanese Cedar also display an extraordinary 130 year long excursion event between 550 AD and 680 AD [with a minimum around 630 AD].

Unsurprisingly, both of these events are reflected in the Irish Oaks δ14C chronology.

Irish Oaks Delta14C Catastrophies

A Carbon-14 Chronology
https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/a-carbon-14-chronology/

In 1976 the enthused Leona Libby looked forward to using her Isotopic Tree Thermometers to establish the history of climate going back many millennia.

The exciting possibility of studying trees felled by the advancing ice sheet at the Two Creeks site in Wisconsin 12,000 yr ago is an obvious application of this technology.

It seems likely that if the method is sound we can establish the history of climate back many millennia, as far back, in fact, as there are tree remnants to be found.

Isotopic Tree Thermometers
Leona Marshall Libby, Louis J Pandolfi, Patrick H Payton, John Marshall III, Bernd Becker and V Giertz-Sienbenlist
Nature 261, 284 – 288 – 27 May 1976
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JC081i036p06377/abstract

However, it appears that the mainstream wasn’t enthused by the prospect of having their pet theories overturned and arranged for Leona Libby to be diverted into outer space during 1977.

There is evidence that the Moon melted completely 4,400 Myr ago, and between 4,000 Myr and 3,200 Myr ago had an internal magnetic field.

But gravity could not have provided the heat of melting, and it must have come from short lived radio elements.

Theory suggests the transuranics with atomic numbers between 114 and 126 may be relatively stable, and it is shown that these ‘superheavy elements’ fit the requirements of the early heat source in the moon.

Primaeval Melting of the Moon
S. Keith Runcorn, Leona Marshall Libby and Willard F. Libby
Nature 270, 676 – 681 – 22 December 1977
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v270/n5639/abs/270676a0.html

FOOTNOTE ONE
Leona Libby appears to have taken one last bite of the Isotopic Tree Thermometers cherry in December 1976 when she revealed some of the periodicities found in her data

We have obtained evidence that trees store the record of climate in their rings.

In each ring the ratios of the stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen vary in proportion to the air temperature when the ring was formed because the isotopic composition of rain and atmospheric CO2 varies with temperature.

In this paper the stable isotope variations of hydrogen and oxygen in a Japanese cedar have been correlated with the secular variations of radiocarbon measured in bristlecone pines by Suess (1970).

We find significant negative correlations for both isotope ratios over the last 1800 years.

The inference is that the small-scale (∼1%) variations in 14C concentrations in tree rings are related to climate variations.

In our data we find periodicities of 58, 68, 90, 96, 154, 174, 204, and 272 years.

Because our samples are averaged over 5 years each, we are not able to detect the 21-year sunspot cycle in the present data.

The Suess samples averaged over about 25 years each reveal a periodicity of 183 years, in agreement with our periodicity of 174 years.

Isotopic Tree Thermometers: Correlation with Radiocarbon
Leona Marshall Libby, Louis J. Pandolfi
Meteorology – 20 December 1976
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JC081i036p06377/abstract

FOOTNOTE TWO
In these days of CO2 driven Anthropomorphic Climate Change it is intriguing to know that in Leona Libby’s May 1976 paper she found support for “the hypothesis that the C02 and H20 are in isotopic equilibrium in the atmosphere”.

In Fig. 5 we have compared the modern part of the cedar with temperatures measured at Miyazaki, a nearby weather station.

Although Miyazaki is at sea level, our Cryptomeria grew at a higher altitude, about 5,000 feet.

In spite of climatic differences which might be expected to arise from difference in altitude, there seems to be significant agreement, in the cedar and thus indirectly check the method further.

The fact that

δD = 8.2δ 18O+constant

for the cedar, showing a slope consistent with that for worldwide rainwater within experimental error, indicates that the tree is storing old rainwater.

Furthermore, it supports the hypothesis that the C02 and H20 are in isotopic equilibrium in the atmosphere.

Isotopic Tree Thermometers
Leona Marshall Libby, Louis J Pandolfi, Patrick H Payton, John Marshall III, Bernd Becker and V Giertz-Sienbenlist
Nature 261, 284 – 288 – 27 May 1976
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JC081i036p06377/abstract

That’s another topic to add to my Dig Here list.

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Gallery | This entry was posted in Atmospheric Science, Catastrophism, Dendrochronology, Earth, Heinsohn Horizon, History, Moon, Radiocarbon Dating, The Old Japanese Cedar Tree. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Isotopic Tree Thermometers and The Heinsohn Horizon

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  2. rishrac says:

    How did this research get buried? How does this square with the information released by CAGW on global warming via proxy of tree rings. No mention of isotopic ratois. I’ve argued at length about the width of the rings as an indicator of temperature. (Amount of water, nutrition, position and altitude) If I’d known about this, the debate would have ended much earlier and not in favor of CAGW. ….

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