Laboratory for Dendrochronology


  • to reconstruct the temporal and spatial variability of the climate of the past utilizing multi-parameter tree ring analysis
  • to assess and verify the causes of climate change and its impact on woody plants


  • quantitative analysis of the climate-signal transfer from atmosphere through soil and leaf into the wood of tree rings (Monitoring, calibration and verification of tree ring parameters vs. instrumental data)
  • to establish multi-centennial to millennium long time series of tree-ring parameters (ring width, cellstructure parameters, stable isotope ratios) for networks of sites from selected regions of the earth
  • comparative study of time series of climate proxies from different geo-archives (varved sediments, spelethemes, corals etc.)

Increment borer, Häglof, Sweden
Increment borer, Suunto, Finland
Tip of an incrementborer, Suunto, Finland
Sharpening tools for increment borers, Grube, Eberswalde, Germany

Increment borers (5mm ∅, 30 to 80cm length) and accessories

Beltsander OPTI
Beltsander OPTI
modified precision saw


Trimming of wood segments and cores

Beltsander OPTI

Coarse preparation wood surfaces

Precision saw

A precision saw (Buehler Isomet 5000) was modified by our GFZ workshop for dissecting thin cross sections from wood cores or wood segments.

WSL Sliding Microtome
UV- Laser Microdissections Microscope (PALM MicroBeam, ZEISS, Germany)
UV- Laser Microdissections Microscope (LMD7000, LEICA, Germany)

WSL Sliding microtome

UV-Laser Microdissection Microscopes

For high resolution intra-annual investigations of tree rings variuos microtomes as well research microscopes with UV-laser dissection devices are being used. This allows to prepare, dissect and collect samples, e.g. tree-rings and parts thereof of micrometer size/thickness.

Tree-rings of >0.2mm width are being dissected utilizing binoculars (Nikon)

LINTAB Tree-ring measurement system
calibrated optical scanner and WinDendro© analysis software
Dissection of tree rings with scalpell under binocular
Extraction of cellulose
Ultrasonic device for homogenisation of cellulose
Sonode in sample vial; ultrasonic Homogenisation device
Freeze drying device
Homogenized and dried cellulose samples in Eppendorf vials
Weighing chamber
Vacuum drying ovens
Wieloch, T.; Helle, G.; Heinrich, I.; Voigt, M.; Schyma, P. (2011): A novel device for batch-wise isolation of α-cellulose from small-amount wholewood samples. Dendrochronologia, 29, 2, 115-117.

Cellulose extraction

Ultrasonic Homogenisation of cellulose

Freeze drying devices 

Extracted, homogenized cellulose

Weighing chamber

3 micro balances mounted on special tables are being used for weighing samples for Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS)

Vacuum drying oven

2 Vacuum drying ovens are used to store cellulose samples and reference material for IRMS

To-date we do have monitoring activities going on in:

  • NE-Germany, Müritz National Park
  • Mozambique (Gorongosa National Park)
Müritz National Park, NE-Germany, Old beech forest, October 2012
Müritz National Park, NE-Germany, Old beech forest in summer
Müritz National Park, NE-Germany, Beech canopy in autumn

Dendrohydrological monitoring in NE-Germany

Point dendrometer: out of reach for the elephants?
Small baobab tree equiped with dendrometers; Musina, South Africa
Circumference dendrometer on a branch of a baobab

phD-project of Franziska Slotta in cooperation with FU Berlin (Frank Riedel) and the German Archaeological Institute (DAI, Uwe Heußner), Berlin.

A focus is on utilizing a "Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope - CLSM", FV300 FLUOVIEW, Olympus.

Cell^B software
WinCELL Pro 2011a & XL Cell
WinDENDRO Density
Image-Pro Plus & ROXAS

Liang, W., Heinrich, I., Simard, S., Helle, G., Dorado Liñán, I., Heinken, T. (2013): Climate signals derived from cell anatomy of Scots pine in NE Germany.Tree Physiology 33, 833–844. | doi:10.1016/j.dendro.2012.09.002

Liang, W.; Heinrich, I.; Helle, G.; Dorado Liñán, I.; Heinken, T. (2013): Applying CLSM to increment core surfaces for histometric analyses: A novel advance in quantitative wood anatomy. Dendrochronologia, 31, 2, 140-145. | doi:10.1093/treephys/tpt059

Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer ISOPRIME
Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer Delta V, ThermoFisher with HAT pyrolysis device for δ18O determination


Gerhard Helle
Dr. Gerhard Helle
Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution
Building D, Room 220
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1377


Ingo Heinrich
Priv. Doz. Dr. Ingo Heinrich
Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution
Building C, Room 323
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1915