I recently had the pleasure to work with a team of ecologists for eight days in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The point of the trip was to reoccupy and expand investigations of the Cooper Plots established over 100 years ago in the wake of the retreating ice in the West Arm. A nice rundown of this ecological succession work is presented here on Glacier Hub. The ecology team recently published on their rediscovery of the plots, which was heroic considering the immense lands, intense brush and sometimes cryptic description of the plot locations.
The accommodations and views in the West Arm of Glacier Bay were spectacular. Logistics of the project were supported by the National Park Service, who we gratefully acknowledge.
The team of ecologists included (left to right) Drs. Allison Bidlack (Director, Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, University of Alaska Southeast), Sarah Bisbing (University of Nevada – Reno) and Brian Buma (University of Alaska Southeast). I was along to core trees at the sites (Wooster Tree Ring Lab) and to measure the size of alders.
Sarah and Brian cordon off one of Cooper’s 1-meter plots with string so we don’t trample the vegetation. Sarah reals out a 15-meter tape with Allison on……
The high rainfall and high coastal ranges nourish the icefields of southern Alaska along and with the extensive carbon-rich forests and ecosystems of the Northern Pacific Coastal Temperate Rainforest (PCTR).
Chris surveys the North Pacific noting the extensive moisture source and ocean pasture that is just offshore of the terrestrial ecosystems we are studying.
Malisse sits atop a shore pine, another slow growing coastal species that is experiencing potential decline.
Kerensa sites atop an obducted ophiolite – we were 71% sure that there were pillows in the basalt.
Josh cores another Alaska Yellow cedar – we were able to sample three sites in the Juneau area. These cedars are in decline due to warming and loss of snowpack, which makes their fine roots vulnerable to frost. Our objective is to work up the tree-ring record of the sites to contribute to our understanding of the decline.
Alora takes a break from taking notes and GPS coordinates for each tree.
Ice caves fund to explore and act as a conduit to meltwater and warm air accelerating the melt.
Blue the dog – takes a break from pursuing porcupines in the muskeg.
Nick of the Ophiolite.
Kerensa wades through the deep texture of coastal carbon.
Buried forests emerge from the wasting margin of……..
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.
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