The researchers studied bristlecone pines at three sites in California and Nevada, close to the upper elevation limit of tree growth.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of Matthew Salzer, University of Arizona
Growth Spurt in Tree Rings Prompts Questions About Climate Change
News story originally written on November 13, 2009
Studying tree rings doesn't only tell us the age of that tree. Tree rings also show what climate was like while the tree was alive. This means that tree rings can tell us about climates of the past. Two scientists, named Matthew Salzer and Malcolm Hughes, have studied tree rings from bristlecone pine trees to find out why these trees have grown more than normal in the past 50 years.
They took core samples from living and dead trees at high elevations in the mountains of California and Nevada. The trees they studied were located at tree line, which is the edge of the area where trees can grow. Higher up from tree line it's usually too cold and dry for trees to grow. The scientists learned that bristlecone pines at tree line grow faster when temperatures are warmer. Trees that are lower down the mountain grow faster with higher amounts of precipitation and when temperatures are cooler.
They said that this could also impact humans in the future. High mountains store water as snow throughout the winter. If the amount of time that there is snow on the mountains is reduced, more precipitation will come down as rain or will evaporate and will take away from water supplies.
You might also be interested in:
How do you know to pack your bathing suit and sunhat for a trip to a tropical island or pack warm sweaters and coats for a trip to Alaska? If you know a little about regional climates, then you know what...more
Scientists have learned that Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, has erupted in the past due to the mixing of two different types of magma. Adam Kent, a geologist at Oregon State University, says this...more
The Earth's mantle is a rocky, solid shell that is between the Earth's crust and the outer core. The mantle is made up of many different reservoirs that have different chemical compositions. Scientists...more
Some faults look strong and like they wouldn’t cause an earthquake. But it turns out that they can slip and slide like weak faults causing earthquakes. Scientists have been looking at one of these faults...more
The sun goes through cycles that last approximately 11 years. These solar cycle include phases with more magnetic activity, sunspots, and solar flares. They also include phases with less activity. The...more
Studying tree rings doesn't only tell us the age of that tree. Tree rings also show what climate was like while the tree was alive. This means that tree rings can tell us about climates of the past. Two...more
Earth's first life form may have developed between the layers of a chunk of mica sitting like a multilayered sandwich in primordial waters, according to a new hypothesis. The mica hypothesis, which was...more