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To eliminate individual variations in tree-ring growth, dendrochronologists take the smoothed average of the tree-ring widths of multiple tree samples to build up a ring history, a process termed replication.

A tree-ring history whose beginning and end dates are not known is called a floating chronology.

A new layer of wood is added in each growing season, thickening the stem, existing branches and roots, to form a growth ring.

Growth rings, also referred to as tree rings or annual rings, can be seen in a horizontal cross section cut through the trunk of a tree.

Douglass sought to better understand cycles of sunspot activity and reasoned that changes in solar activity would affect climate patterns on earth, which would subsequently be recorded by tree-ring growth patterns (i.e., sunspots → climate → tree rings).