Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




WOOD PILE
Redwood trees reveal history of West Coast rain, fog, ocean conditions
by Hannah Hickey for UW News
Seattle WA (SPX) Oct 31, 2013


Coastal redwoods in Northern California use fog as a water source, incorporating the molecules in their trunks. Image courtesy Michael Schweppe.

Many people use tree ring records to see into the past. But redwoods - the iconic trees that are the world's tallest living things - have so far proven too erratic in their growth patterns to help with reconstructing historic climate.

A University of Washington researcher has developed a way to use the trees as a window into coastal conditions, using oxygen and carbon atoms in the wood to detect fog and rainfall in previous seasons.

"This is really the first time that climate reconstruction has ever been done with redwoods," said Jim Johnstone, who recently completed a postdoctoral position at the UW-based Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and the Ocean. He is corresponding author of a study published online Oct. 24 in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences.

While coastal redwoods are not the longest-lived trees on the West Coast, they do contain unique information about their foggy surroundings.

"Redwoods are restricted to a very narrow strip along the coastline," Johnstone said. "They're tied to the coastline, and they're sensitive to marine conditions, so they actually may tell you more about what's happening over the ocean than they do about what's happening over land."

The new study used cores from Northern California coastal redwoods to trace climate back 50 years. Weather records from that period prove the method is accurate, suggesting it could be used to track conditions through the thousand or more years of the redwoods' lifetime.

Tree-ring research, or dendrochronology, typically involves a detailed look at a cross-section of a tree trunk. But the rings of a redwood are uneven and don't always fully encircle the tree, making it a poor candidate for anything except detecting historic fires.

The new paper uses a painstaking approach that's more like processing ice cores. It uses the molecules captured in the wood to sample the atmosphere of the past.

Most oxygen in Earth's atmosphere has an atomic mass of 16, making it O-16, but a small percentage of oxygen is the heavier O-18 isotope. When seawater evaporates off the ocean to form clouds, some drops fall as rain over the ocean, and more of the heavier O-18 molecules rain out. The remaining drops that fall on land thus have a higher proportion of the lighter O-16 molecules.

Fog, on the other hand, forms near shore and blows on land where it drips down through the branches until the trees use it like rainwater.

By looking at the proportion of O-16 and O-18 in the wood from each season, the team was able to measure the contribution of fog and rain. They looked at the spring growth, from April to June, as well as the fall growth, from August to October. Researchers also analyzed carbon atoms to measure the total amount of moisture in the air.

"We actually have two indicators that we can use in combination to determine if a particular summer was foggy with a little rain, foggy with a lot of rain, and various combinations of the two," Johnstone said.

Related research by Johnstone shows that the amount of West Coast fog is closely tied to the surface temperature of the ocean, so redwoods may be able to tell us something about the long-term patterns of ocean change, such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Understanding of the natural variability cycles could also help to better distinguish natural and human-caused climate change.

"It's possible that the redwoods could give us direct indication of how that's worked over longer periods," Johnstone said. "This is just a piece that contributes to that understanding in a pretty unique place."

Johnstone conducted the research as part of his doctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was advised by co-author Todd Dawson. The other co-author is John Roden at Southern Oregon University. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

.


Related Links
University of Washington
Forestry News - Global and Local News, Science and Application






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WOOD PILE
Study of Brazilian Amazon shows 50,000 km of road was built in just three years
London, UK (SPX) Oct 31, 2013
Although road-building is a major contributor to deforestation and habitat loss, the way in which road networks develop is still poorly understood. A new study is among the first to measure the number of roads built in a rainforest ecosystem over an extended period of time. It was published this month in the journal Regional Environmental Change by researchers including two Life Scientists ... read more


WOOD PILE
Space technologies boost disaster reduction int'l co-op

How to Manage Nature's Runaway Freight Trains

Uruguay to pull peacekeepers from Haiti: president

Storm-battered northern Europe slowly gets back to normal

WOOD PILE
Historic Demonstration Proves Laser Communication Possible

UNC neuroscientists discover new 'mini-neural computer' in the brain

Birthing a new breed of materials

Unique chemistry in hydrogen catalysts

WOOD PILE
Physicists provide new insights into coral skeleton formation

Coral chemicals protect against warming oceans

Spain's Gas Natural Fenosa opens new Galicia hydropower plant

Brazil court orders resumption of work on Amazon dam

WOOD PILE
Families ask Ottawa to demand Russia release activists

Greenpeace activists hit out at detention conditions

Maritime tribunal to hear 'Arctic Sunrise' case on Nov 6

New study finds unprecedented warmth in Arctic

WOOD PILE
Second GM corn set for EU approval after Court ruling: EU sources

For fish and rice to thrive in Yolo Bypass, 'just add water'

Brazil energy, farm incentives fuel CO2 emissions

Argentine bread prices keep rising as grain scarcity kicks in

WOOD PILE
Floods kill 48 in eastern India: report

Fukushima workers evacuated as small tsunami hits Japan

Japan mudslide islanders take shelter as new storm looms

Philippine earthquake creates miles-long rocky wall

WOOD PILE
Ghana arrests 46 more foreigners over illegal gold mining

Congo army 'has crushed eastern rebellion,' but peace elusive

Four Frenchmen head home after three-year kidnap ordeal in Niger

Four French hostages kidnapped in Niger released: Hollande

WOOD PILE
Study: Humans made sophisticated stone tools earlier than thought

Did hard-wired fear of snakes drive evolution of human vision?

Hair regeneration method is first to induce new human hair growth

No known hominin is ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement