INVESTIGATIONS

Investigation: Climate Change Impact on Trees

In the beginning of February 2022, if we bore 10 living and 10 dead trees in 5 different species at Edna Drinkwater School in Northport, Maine, and study the samples with a microscope to count the tree rings to tell the tree’s age and growth during the life of the tree, and compare our records to Belfast Water District weather records, will it show the same data about the climate? Plus, what is the total amount of Carbon Dioxide the tree sequestered and the amount of C02 the dead trees are putting back out into the atmosphere?

 

TOOLS:

  • Tree flagging tape
  • Measuring tape
  • 10 living trees
  • 10 decomposing/dying trees
  • Calculator
  • Clinometer
  • Increment Borer (length depends on diameter of trees)
  • Beeswax lubricant
  • Paper straws (hold core samples)
  • Paintbrush case (for all samples)
  • Boots/jacket/warm gear
  • Clipboard
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Eraser
  • Microscope
  • Gloves 
  • Digital calipers
  • Computer
  • Tuva

 

Instructions / How to do this investigation

DATA COLLECTION:

    1. Collect all the supplies needed
    2. Head down to Edna Drinkwater School’s woods
    3. Use a tape measure to find 10 living trees with the biggest circumference and 10 dead/decomposing trees with the biggest circumference 
    4. Mark the trees with ribbon tape
    5. For each tree:
  • Record species:
        1. Use a local guidebook or plant ID app to identify the trees
  • Record the height:
        1. Use the clinometer to measure the tree’s height
  • Record the circumference:
        1. When you get up to the tree you have to step on one end of the measuring tape and measure up DBH (diameter at breast height) which is 4 feet 6 inches (4.5 feet because it is the easiest place to bore into the tree without having to lay on the ground or reach up very high. You don’t have to cut out growing plants as well).
        2. Take the circumference by going around the tree at DBH with the measuring tape (example: 4 feet 7 inches)
        3. Convert feet into inches: 4 feet 7 inches is in feet so to calculate total inches multiply number of feet by 12 (inches per foot) and then add extra inches (example: we’ve done. 4×12=48+7=55 to put it into inches).  
  • Record the radius:
        1. We need to take the total circumference in inches by and divide by 2 x pi (2 x 3.14 = 6.28) to get the radius (example 55/ 6.28 = 8.78)
  • Use the Increment Borer:
        1. First, put together the tree borer and take out extractor
        2. Apply pressure and insert the threaded end of the borer into the bark 
        3. Turn and keep applying pressure until threads into bark/wood 
        4. Use 2 hands to drill borer into the wood of the tree just past the radius/center (not more than twice in the same tree)
        5. Put in the extractor slowly upside down with caution (avoid hurting your hands when drilling)
        6. Flip borer 1 and a half times 
        7. Slowly take out extractor. Be patient with getting the sample of the borer and don’t force it or it might break, and if the sample chips you may have to redo the boring. But take the tree sample out of the tree as soon as possible (if the sample is left in the tree it might not come out).
        8. Take out borer and blow clear
        9. Reassemble borer!
  • Record sample #

 

  1. Sample Storage:
    1. Place each sample into a container where it will not be harmed, such as a paper straw.
    2. Put all samples into tray/holder 
    3. Once you have all the samples, bring them back to classroom to be looked over.
    4. Set them somewhere safe and let them dry out (if core is in “green” condition freeze or refrigerate).

 

DATA ANALYSIS

 

Recording Data

  1. Use the microscope to inspect the living tree samples. For each sample, record:
    1. Count the tree’s light and dark pairs of rings which will tell age, making sure to not count past center of tree
      1. Add 5 – 10 more years to the age to include DBH
    2. For each pair of tree rings from outside of tree to inside:
      1. Record year for each pair of tree rings
      2. Use caliper to measure the width of each light and dark pair of tree rings
  2. Use the microscope to inspect the dead/decomposing tree samples. For each sample, record:
    1. Count the tree’s light and dark pairs of rings which will tell age, making sure to not count past center of tree
      1. Add 5 – 10 more years to the age to include DBHFor each sample:
  1. Try to align the pattern of rings against the living trees to determine how many years ago the tree died. 
  2. Use this pattern to record the years of each ring
  3. For each pair of tree rings from outside of tree to inside:
    1. Record year for each pair of tree rings
    2. Use caliper to measure the width of each light and dark pair of tree rings

 

Analyzing Data

  1. Estimate climatic conditions per width of tree growth:
    1. If it’s wet that year the rings are going to be thick. 
    2. If it’s dry that year then the rings are thin.
    3. If our tree rings are thicker then we know that it was warmer in that year
    4. If our tree rings are thinner then we know that it was colder in that year
  2. Submit data to Tuva
  3. Research each tree year of data to Belfast Water District weather records, recording:
    1. Year
    2. Average annual temperature
    3. Average annual rainfall
    4. Average annual snowfall
  1. Submit to Tuva
  2. Enter circumference of trees into CO2 calculator (www.carboncalculator.ncsu.edu/Trees.aspx):
    1. Quantity of CO2 dead trees has gone into atmosphere
    2. Quantity of CO2 absorbed by living trees 
  3. Submit to Tuva
  4. Compare the tree growth data to the Belfast Water District weather records to see if there are any correlations between the years of poor or excessive growth and climate change.
  5. Compare quantity of C02 released to atmosphere 

 

ACT:

  1. When we are done we will plant 10 trees!
  2. Congratulate each other with ice cream.

 

Sources:

 

Nikki Becker, NOAA

https://mff.forest.mtu.edu/Curriculum/SupportDocs/Borer.htm

/www.carboncalculator.ncsu.edu/Trees.aspx

https://openoregon.pressbooks.pub/forestmeasurements/chapter/4-7-increment-coring/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVj8LgPz_AU

https://www.bu.edu/articles/2018/climate-change-warmer-winter-harming-forests-in-northeast/

https://www.amnh.org/learn-teach/curriculum-collections/earth-inside-and-out/studying-tree-rings-to-learn-about-global-climate

https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings

https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/how-can-tree-rings-teach-us-about-climate

https://www.metlink.org/resource/using-tree-rings-for-past-weather-and-climate/  

https://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/publications/handbooks_guides/forest_trees/index.html

https://www.bu.edu/articles/2018/climate-change-warmer-winter-harming-forests-in-northeast/

https://www.nsf.gov/news/mmg/mmg_disp.jsp?med_id=76109

https://www.windows2universe.org/headline_universe/olpa/TreeRings_13Nov09.html

https://serc.carleton.edu/trex/students/index.html

https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/education_safety/education/plt/activity_sheets/howToUseAClinometer.pdf

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