Menu

A journal of science, thought, and action.

Published on Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reading Trees

Plants speak to us if we're paying close attention. They wilt if not watered; turn yellow if not fed; and burn if in to much sun. Plants can be books if you learn how to read them, and trees are some of the best record keepers. New investigations by researchers at the University of Washington's  Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and the Ocean  show they can now inform us about climate change as well.

According to a report in  Geophysical Research/Bio-geosciences , Jim Johnstone of the Institute has developed a way to use redwoods as a window into past climate conditions. Using oxygen isotopes in the tree's wood to detect fog and rainfall in previous seasons, the new method has proved correct in a 50 year time-line test. The researcher comment in a UW announcement : “This is really the first time that climate reconstruction has ever been done with redwoods.”

  
Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens)                 Redwoods Range (credit: Save the Redwoods)
(credit: Wiki-commons)                                

The research used cores from California coastal redwoods tracing climate over the test period. Weather records gathered over from the same time showed that Johnstone's measure was accurate, suggesting it could be used to track conditions through the thousand or more years of a redwoods’ lifetime.

The lead researcher and his collaborators used a difficult approach more similar to reading ice cores and bores from trees to measure oxygen isotope ratios in the wood.
Rain and fog carry different ratios of the molecules so fog---the prime natural characteristic of redwood environments---absorbed by the wood retained a record of past chemistry of the thick moisture-laden atmosphere.

Related research has showed that the amount of West Coast fog is tied to ocean surface temperatures, so redwoods may provide information about long-term patterns of ocean change. Johnstone said: “It is possible that redwoods could give us a direct indication of how that’s worked over longer periods."

A recent TED presentation details more about these remarkable trees and the people who study them:



While the researchers have learned to read these tall "books" well the fate of the fogs that bath them is being affected by a changing climate and a new history is being written in their wood.

WHB



Comments (0)Number of views (12447)
Print

Please login or register to post comments.

Name:
Email:
Subject:
Message:
x
Compassionate Turtles

20

Jun

2018

Compassionate Turtles

Compassionate behavior can be seen in animals.

Read more
The Conservation Alliance

Archive Highlights

Carbon Taxes Take a Step Back. Maybe It Needs a New Name.

A carbon tax falters in Australia, sees dim prospects in America, and inches along in Canada. Maybe it needs a new name. 

16 Jul 2013

Video Highlights

Recent Archive Highlights

Environmental Art

Environmental Art 15 January 2018

Environmental Art

Creating paintings with natue connections.

Patagonia and Sustainability

Patagonia and Sustainability 31 December 2017

Patagonia and Sustainability

Patagonia shows how to apply sustainability in business practice.

Where Good Ideas Come From

Where Good Ideas Come From 22 December 2017

Where Good Ideas Come From

A clever storyteller suggests an answer.

Bottled Arctic Notes

Bottled Arctic Notes 15 December 2017

Bottled Arctic Notes

A bottled note tossed to the waves recovered years later.

Bloody Falls, Dry Valleys, & Mars

Bloody Falls, Dry Valleys, & Mars 7 December 2017

Bloody Falls, Dry Valleys, & Mars

The Dry Valleys are one of the strangest environments on Earth.

With the Stoke of a Pen, an update

With the Stoke of a Pen, an update 5 December 2017

With the Stoke of a Pen, an update

In 2014, major marine preserves were created.

Curing Blindness

Curing Blindness

Can blindness anywhere be eliminated?

  • 418
Conserving, the Mother Load

Conserving, the Mother Load

Trying to avoid another Dust Bowl.

  • 486
Restoration by Crowdfunding

Restoration by Crowdfunding

A rare fish is restored and the ecological recovery is a good lesson.

  • 510
OMG Scans Greenland Glaciers

OMG Scans Greenland Glaciers

Scanning Greenland's ice dynamics.

  • 440
Compassion and other creatures

Compassion and other creatures

Compassion is considered a trait uniquely human but we should make it more inclusive.

  • 3166
Efficiency, efficiency, & more efficiency!

Efficiency, efficiency, & more efficiency!

Efficiency is the name of the game for energy, architecture, and solar design with three new developments showing the way.

  • 2898
A Brewing Storm

A Brewing Storm

Climate change is already affecting growers of coffee.

  • 1435
Conservatives and Conservation

Conservatives and Conservation

 

Republican presidents from Theodore Roosevelt, to Richard Nixon, through George W. Bush left good environmental accomplishments.

 

  • 1955
Re-seeding Reefs...one polyp at a time

Re-seeding Reefs...one polyp at a time

One way to restore coral reefs could require re-seeding with transplanted corals.

  • 4036
Whales & Drones

Whales & Drones

Remotely controlled drones provide a quiet way to track animal behavior.

  • 6491
Crazy Engineering: the Gecko Gripper

Crazy Engineering: the Gecko Gripper

Robotic engineers at JPL are turning to bio-mimicry and using a gecko as their design guide.

  • 1866
Fishing for Plastic

Fishing for Plastic

It takes garbage to make a boat.

  • 2240
Tsunami Invaders

Tsunami Invaders

Invasive species raft across the ocean.

  • 598
The Playful Wonderland

The Playful Wonderland

From fire to photographs.

  • 467
Restoration Ecology 101: Iceland

Restoration Ecology 101: Iceland

Restoring forests lost for 1000 years.

  • 1009
Deforestation and 'Dirty Chocolate'

Deforestation and 'Dirty Chocolate'

Avoiding 'dirty chocolate'.

  • 597
Mars in VR

Mars in VR

Mars as if you were there.

  • 503
Sounds of Space-Time Merging

Sounds of Space-Time Merging

An audio recording 130 million years old.

  • 534
What's Under All That Ice?

What's Under All That Ice?

Remote sensing is producing a revolution in glaciology.

  • 473
Observing Neutron Stars Collide

Observing Neutron Stars Collide

For the first time, neutron stars were detected colliding.

  • 440
Sand Kitty

Sand Kitty

Desert sand kittens on video.

  • 419
Smoke from Space

Smoke from Space

Viewing smoke and fires from space.

  • 472
Volcanoes 101

Volcanoes 101

A super-volcano lies under Yellowstone.

  • 419
Wine Country Burning

Wine Country Burning

California's wine country is on fire.

  • 409
Growing Food Intelligence

Growing Food Intelligence

Re-imaging a new food production future.

  • 395
Australia Fries in Record Heatwave

Australia Fries in Record Heatwave

Australian summer temperatures reached extreme levels.

  • 506
First234567891011Last

Archive