The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Friday, May 31, 2013

Tracking Climate Change with Trees

Did you know that wood is playing a primary role in the scientific study and debate of climate change? Tree rings, to be specific, are leading scientists to understand the climatic variation over the years as recorded by the size of the rings. This British chap explains the basic concept pretty well in a not-too-scientific way...

As the good fellow mentioned in the video above, the science of studying history through tree rings is called "dendrochronology". It's a fascinating field of study that allows scientists to investigate a whole range of things based on the tree ring data provided by wood from living or dead trees, lumber from ships or structures, or even panels on which old paintings were made.

Here is a nice video of a team of scientists working in the Rocky Mountains of Montana to collect and analyze tree ring data to add to our growing knowledge of climate variation. It has some excellent detail of the tree boring and ring measurement processes. As you know if you've ever counted tree rings, it can get a little tricky, and these folks have really got the process "down to a science."

Tree ring counting in the Rocky Mountains...a great job if you can get it.

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