Due to warming climate and increasing human exploitation, far northern forests and the tundra beyond are undergoing rapid changes. In northern Alaska, scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other institutions are studying the responses of trees at the very edge of their range.
trees Archives - State of the Planet
In northern Alaska’s Brooks Range, the earth as most of us know it comes to an end. The northern tree line-a boundary that circles all of earth’s northern landmasses for more than 8,300 miles, and forms the planet’s biggest ecological transition zone–runs through here. Scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are studying how climate may change it, and the tundra beyond.
Forests in the south-central United States are some of the country’s most productive and diverse. They also sit in a warming “hole”—an area where the progressive rise in temperature affecting most of the continent hasn’t yet taken hold. A team from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is studying how these forests might shift—or even disappear—when climate change does catch up with them, as expected.
One foggy spring morning just after a hard rain, Park Williams was tromping through the woods deep in Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains. Toiling down a steep slope, he supposedly was keeping a simultaneous eye out for rattlesnakes, copperheads, poison ivy and big old trees. Williams seemed mostly focused on the trees, though; attention to the other stuff was just slowing him down. Williams studies how forests react to changes in climate, and the Ozarks’ deeply dissected hills and hollers—what some might refer to as typical hillbilly country—are a kind of ground zero for this.
While much attention is focused on genetically modified foods, fewer people are aware that many other genetically modified organisms and cells are in development. Columbia University’s Shaheed Naeem and Matthew Palmer offer their perspectives.
Daily comparisons on TV or other media sources are typically based upon recent climate and ignore the past. Dased upon paleo records, the full picture indicates that we are sitting in one of the more unusually wet periods of the last 500 years.
Trees play a vital role in cleaning air and absorbing carbon dioxide.
Ever since I’ve started learning to cross-date tree core samples, I’ve learned I have a type. I prefer my tree cores to be black oaks, middle-aged, with some nice big rings to show me. Alright, fine, I can deal with some smaller rings every now and then. As long as they’re some nice marker rings. Unfortunately, the trees don’t seem to be trying to impress me.
Nicole Davi, a postdoctoral scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, thinks tree rings are an ideal way to motivate students to collect and analyze data as well as to learn about climate change.
After a few days of mild frustration, the sampling of potentially old umbrella pine lifted our spirits and put us in a good frame of mind to conduct our last day of research in the temperate rainforest region of northeastern Turkey. We headed out of Borçka and met with a forest officer in charge of forests… read more