The relentless campaign to find and sink Germany’s WWII battleship, the Tirpitz, left its mark on the landscape that is evident even today.
The largest vessel in Hitler’s Kriegsmarine, it was stationed for much of the war along the Norwegian coast to deter an Allied invasion.
The German navy would hide the ship in fjords and screen it with chemical fog.
This “smoke” did enormous damage to the surrounding trees which is recorded in their growth rings.
Claudia Hartl, from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, stumbled across the impact while examining pines at Kåfjord near Alta.
The dendrochronologist was collecting wood cores to build up a picture of past climate in the area. Severe cold and even infestation from insects can severely stunt annual growth in a stand, but neither of these causes could explain the total absence of rings seen in some trees dated to 1945.