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The techniques of dendrochronology are more consistent in areas where trees grew in marginal conditions such as aridity or semi-aridity where the ring growth is more sensitive to the environment, rather than in humid areas where tree-ring growth is more uniform (complacent).

New growth in trees occurs in a layer of cells near the bark.Removal of the bark of the tree in a particular area may cause deformation of the rings as the plant overgrows the scar.The rings are more visible in trees which have grown in temperate zones, where the seasons differ more markedly.Researchers can compare and match these patterns ring-for-ring with patterns from trees which have grown at the same time in the same geographical zone (and therefore under similar climatic conditions).When one can match these tree-ring patterns across successive trees in the same locale, in overlapping fashion, chronologies can be built up—both for entire geographical regions and for sub-regions.Moreover, wood from ancient structures with known chronologies can be matched to the tree-ring data (a technique called cross-dating), and the age of the wood can thereby be determined precisely.

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