1. TREE-RINGS ARE LIKE FINGERPRINTS.
Our research uses tree-rings to investigate the impact of extreme drought events on tree growth and how resilient forest are to these events.
We can think of tree rings as being a bit like fingerprints. Where the lines of a fingerprint are unique to every person, every tree-ring holds a record of that trees’ unique relationship with climate and other variables, every single year.
2. CLIMATE REGULATES TREE GROWTH.
As tree growth is tightly coupled to how favourable a given years climate is, generally speaking, where we find wide rings we also find that the climate in that same year was good for tree growth.
In contrast, narrow tree rings often indicate that climate wasn’t very good for tree growth, like in a drought year where it was too hot or dry.
3. TREE CORE EXTRACTION.
By collecting tree cores or cutting cross-sectional discs from tree trunks, we can count the number of rings to estimate the age of a tree. Similarly, we can measure the width of each year’s tree-ring to approximate how much a tree grew in a given year. We can even tell how fast a tree grew in different seasons by looking at the structure of the cells.
4. MEASURING DROUGHT IMPACT.
We can then compare the width of narrow rings formed during and after a drought year to modelled tree growth in a scenario where no drought occurred to give us an indication of how much of an impact that drought had on tree growth.