Using tree rings to predict the future of water on Earth •

Using tree rings to predict the future of water on Earth


TUsing tree rings to predict the future of water on Earth oday’s Video of the Day comes from Utah State University and features a look at how scientists are using tree rings to find out more about the past and future of water on Earth.

The team of researchers have come up with a new tool to estimate monthly water streamflow records by analyzing the growth rings of 600-year old trees. By measuring the width between ring lines, the scientists can identify dry years and wet years. From there, a new computer model can build centuries of streamflow estimates.

Tree rings provide snapshots of Earth’s past climate. Because trees are sensitive to local climate conditions, such as rain and temperature, they give scientists some information about that area’s local climate in the past. For example, tree rings usually grow wider in warm, wet years and they are thinner in years when it is cold and dry.

When a real theory of climate has been developed and we can predict drought and flood over a period of years, this Arizona story in tree rings will have played a creditable part in developing that climatic foresight which is perhaps the most valuable economic advantage yet lying beyond our reach.”

In dry areas such as the US Southwest or the Middle East, tree ring widths can match 70% of the variability in measured precipitation for the period of overlap, which is the length of instrumental record.

By Rory Arnold, Staff Writer

Video Credit: Matt Jensen/USU

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