Summer researchers working in the Tree Ring Lab returned to Stebbin’s Gulch in late May to collect more chestnut oak samples. This increased replication helps us to strengthen our various hypotheses made from the interpretation of our findings.
This information is useful in mapping out land use changes in Northeast Ohio. The team identified an abrupt increase in ring width around 1840. They attributed this rise to decreased competition from logging which coincides with the time of most significant settlement in the area.
Read more about their conclusions in the official dendroclimatological report here.
Brown’s Lake Bog, located near Shreve in Wayne County, Ohio, is a nature preserve and National Natural Landmark that was established in the 1960’s. College of Wooster students have been involved in several past projects at Browns Lake Bog including sediment coring and ice drilling. Last week, the 2018 AMRE students ventured to this local spot to collect tree cores from some red and white oaks in order to perform some climate analysis for the Nature Conservancy and the Friends of Brown’s Lake Bog.
Brown’s Lake Bog is one of a few remaining peatland sites across Ohio that contains an open kettle lake surrounded by a floating sphagnum moss mat. These features are glacial relicts and the knolls surrounding the bog are glacially-formed hills called kames.
This field site is known for its diverse and rare plant community which thrives in the bog’s special acidic and nutrient-poor environment. More than twenty rare plant species can be found here. The carnivorous Northern Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is one of the rare species that attracts bog visitors.
After checking out the kettle lake, the tree ring lab group hiked the short trail to reach the trees sitting on top of the kames. The AMRE students sampled 6 of the oldest white and red oak trees.
Upon returning to the lab, the group mounted up the fresh cores and prepared them for counting and measuring ring widths. This week, Kendra and Alexis are working to update the local chronology and perform various correlations with the data. The final product will be an official climate analysis report.
The map below displays a positive correlation between ring width and precipitation during the months of June and July in the local Wooster area. These months displayed the highest p values and correlations (as shown in the bar graph), which is why these months were selected while creating the map using Climate Explorer. A positive correlation suggests that the more it rained, the better the trees grew (this is expressed in wider ring widths).
This summer, students through the AMRE program will be working in the lab doing historical dating. Kendra Devereux, Alexis Lanier, and Juwan Shabazz will be working with clients to date local barns, update chronologies, and study past climate.
Two additional students are working in the lab with data collected from Columbia Glacier in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Josh Charlton and Victoria Race will be helping out the AMRE students and also spending time with data collected from Columbia Glacier. Josh is working on constructing a model of the rapidly retreating Columbia Glacier and Victoria will be looking more closely at Blue Intensity data obtained from tree cores collected in Columbia Bay.
Work started earlier this week and the group went out in the field yesterday for the first time together. We headed up North to the Holden Arboretum to collect core samples from living Chestnut Oak trees in Stebbins Gulch.
Today we finished mounting the cores and will begin dating them after they have been sanded. These samples will be used to update the chronology from the Holden Arboretum which has not been updated in several decades. We plan on looking specifically at precipitation data extracted from these cores and then writing an official report of our findings for the researchers at Holden.
In the coming weeks, the group will be working on various projects including the Holden chronology, barn dating, and Columbia Glacier data. Stay tuned for updates!!
You can also follow the Geology Club instagram for more information and photos along with the departmental Facebook page.
Two alumni of the Wooster Tree Ring Lab and Wooster Geology, Clara Deck (’17, now at the University of Maine studying ice sheets) and Sarah Frederick (’15, now at The University of Arizona studying drought and streamflow) together with Greg and Nick, and colleagues in the US and Russia published a new study on tree growth and climate in Kamchatka, Fareast Russia. This is part of a special edition of the Journal Forests. The group has donated the data in to the InternationalTree Ring Databank.
Photo below shows some of the coauthors at the base of Tobalchik Volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula.
This summer, several students will be working in the COW Tree Ring Lab on several different projects. Josh Charlton, Eduardo Luna, and Emily Randall have already been hard at work conducting research on Alaska Yellow Cedar trees. Emily has been looking at ring widths and correlating them with climate variables at Tlingit Point, Alaska, while Josh has been measuring their blue intensity. Both are working on a Keck Gateway project on tree dating.
Until today, Eduardo Luna was also in the lab, working with cores from Kamchatka and Alaska. He has also been our resident expert in Adobe Illustrator for producing figures to explain our research — which is very important work.
The final member of our lab right now is me, Brandon Bell. I’ve been working to design this new website for the Tree Ring Lab, with the help of Dr. Breitenbucher, who is the director of Educational Technology at the College. My work station is actually in the center of the photo above.
Yesterday, however, we all went out to do what the Tree Ring Lab does best — core and date trees. We went to the Wayne County Historical Society on Bowman Ave. in order to core two bald cypress trees in front of the Beall House. We were asked to find their date for the Historical Society and for the City of Wooster — the latter is preparing a publication on old or significant trees in the city.
Seeing them for the first time, we were impressed at just how large they were in diameter — although only the tree rings themselves can tell us the tree’s actual age.
The trees themselves were quite difficult to core. We had to use our longer, blue-colored cores due to the larger diameter of these trees. At one point, we even had to climb on a ladder to get cores from higher on the tree. As it turns out, these particular trees had rot near the base, which made it hard to find a core we could use to date the trees.
Overall, though, it was nice to get out of the lab and core. The lab will examine the cores we collected yesterday in the near future.
In the coming weeks, all of us are going on research trips for Geology — In fact, Eduardo just left for Utah. Emily will also be going to Utah in a couple of weeks, and Josh will join Dr. Wiles and Nick Wiesenberg for research in Alaska. I’ll leave next Tuesday for San Francisco, California for my Independent Study research.
Despite this, it looks like it will be a full summer of research for the Tree Ring Lab. I’ve heard that, after we are gone in late June, another crew of students will come to the Tree Ring Lab to take our places in July. Stay tuned for the next updates on this research, and the launch of our new website.
Climate Change 2017 is pleased to have been asked to date the Tracy House, Apple Creek Ohio. The log house/cabin is now stored in the soon to be Apple Creek Community Center and Library will be reassembled this coming summer. The date is unambiguous and most of the timber was cut after the growing season of 1826 and it is likely that the house was originally constructed in 1827, one of the first to be built in the East Union Township. A copy of our report can be found here.
Two class projects kick off the Climate Change 2017 course. The first deals with tree-ring dating (dendrochronology, blog post coming soon) of historical structures and then analyzing the tree-rings for their climate significance. The second is is shown below and it concerned with analyzing sediment cores from Browns Lake Bog that document climate variability since the last Ice Age. Below are some photos of the bog coring – great thanks to Dr. Tom Lowell and his Glacial Geology class from the University of Cincinnati – the folks who did most of the work.
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