If you cut a horizontal cross section through the trunk of a tree, you can see the tree's growth rings (also known as tree rings). Each ring inside the trunk of a tree represents the annual growth of the tree. There are two parts of a growth ring. The inner part is formed during the early growth season (spring and early summer in North America) and is relatively less dense. The outer part of each ring is denser and is formed during the late summer and autumn.
The growing conditions of a particular year will affect the size of a ring. In ideal growing conditions (such as adequate moisture and a relatively long growing season), a ring may be larger because the tree was able to grow more during that time. However, a cold summer or a drought can cause the ring size to be smaller than normal.
Researchers can use tree rings to learn about the growing conditions that were present during a particular time period. The tree depicted below was cut down at the end of the growing year in 2000.
Based on the figure, which of the following years was the best growing season?

B. 1999


The passage states that the tree was cut down at the end of the growing season in 2000, meaning that the outermost ring must correspond to the growth that took place in 2000. You can see that the second-most outer ring has a larger size than this and the next two closest to it, which represent 1998 and 1997, respectively. Therefore, (B) is the correct answer.

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