Tree Tuesday

©voyager, all rights reserved

The effects of human-caused increased greenhouse gases were predicted as early as the turn of the 20th Century and according to the Ivan Semeniuk of the Canadian Globe and Mail a NASA study of tree rings from the last 120 years is helping to prove out this theory.

In 1896, Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius made a prescient calculation that showed the vast quantities of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by burning coal and other fossil fuels would eventually cause the planet to get warmer.

Little did he realize that the effect he described was already under way and being dutifully recorded by a ready-made monitoring system distributed around the globe in the form of trees.

The growth record of trees is recorded in their rings and this growth is highly sensitive to changes in moisture.

Tree rings are among the most direct ways of measuring past climate because trees are sensitive to soil moisture. In drier years, trees grow more slowly and the annual rings that are recorded in their trunks become narrower. By comparing overlapping tree-ring patterns in wood that grew at different times on different continents, scientists have gradually built up “drought atlases” that show changes in moisture distribution dating back to the year 1400 or, in some areas, even earlier.

Drought atlases are nothing new, but using trees to measure the effects of drought across time and region is new science and it’s showing some startling trends.

The scientists found that after centuries of normal variations during which some places alternately became wetter or drier relative to each other, an additional effect on moisture emerged around 1900 that is consistent with climate change. Over all, the data show that much of North America, Australia and the Mediterranean have been getting drier over the past 120 years while parts of Asia, including India and western China, have been getting wetter.

The effect was especially pronounced during the first half of the 20th century, but became more subdued between 1950 and 1975. Since then, it has accelerated. The scientists posit that a huge increase in the release of sulphates and other airborne chemicals in the postwar era served to temporarily counteract the effect of greenhouse gases by deflecting sunlight and promoting cloud formation. This countertrend later subsided after air-quality regulations went into effect in North America and Europe.

The results of this study help confirm that human activity is directly related to global climate change, although trees in the southern hemisphere were not included because their growth patterns are not as seasonally visible.

So it seems that trees are helping to relate the story of climate change in new ways. I’m not surprised. Trees have proven to be one of mankind’s best natural resources and now they’re talking to us in ways we can understand. Whether people will listen is another matter.

 

Via: The Globe and Mail, May 2/19, Ivan Semeniuk

Spawn 2.0

Yesterday we saw a sac of frog eggs that Avalus had found in his botanical garden. Today he’s sent us another amphibian egg sac that he found in the same botanical garden. It’s not as far along as the previous sac from which tadpoles were hatching, but here the babies are all shaped like little, adorable commas.

Laich, ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Speaking of babies, make sure to check in tomorrow for the next installment of Full Fish Ahead. Avalus has lots of babies to show us and they couldn’t be any cuter.

Tree Tuesday

 

This week we continue looking at the oldest and biggest tress in the world, but instead of looking up we’re going underground to have a look at a root system. A clonal root system, to be exact. You’ve seen Old Tjikko, the oldest living clonal tree in the world, but old Mr. T is not the oldest living clonal system in the world. That honour belongs to Pando The Trembling Giant, a colony of Quaking Aspen trees in Fishlake National Park in Utah.

Pando is an ancient clonal root system and although the individual trees live for about 130 years the root organism itself is estimated to be 80,000 years old. Pando was alive when early humans were first migrating out of Africa and it would be about 65,000 years before human eyes even reached the Americas to see Pando.

Pando is more than a group of trees that have withstood the test of time. Pando is actually just one tree; all the aspens of Fishlake National Forest are part of the same organism…  Genetic testing has helped confirm that each tree in the forest is the same organism reproduced over and over again with only slight genetic variations.

Instead of spreading seeds, the clonal grove extends its roots in a process called “suckering.” New “trees” shoot up alongside the old ones, looking like new seedlings — but they actually belong to Pando’s extensive root system, which is why the different trees present nearly identical appearances. They’re essentially clones of the existing foliage.

Scientists believe that every tree in the Pando colony shares the same root system. The result is one of the largest and oldest living organisms on earth and a remarkably resilient forest. Pando’s deep, connected roots have allowed it to survive millennia of fires, droughts, climate shifts, and diseases.

Pando is big, too. It covers 107 acres and weighs in at an estimated 6,615 tons which makes it the worlds heaviest living organism. By comparison, a blue Whale is a lightweight at only about 200 tons. Pando is currently threatened by over-grazing of deer and elk, but a conservation project has been implemented and fences seem to be successfully working.

So there you have it. I think we can safely say that Pando is definitely the oldest and the biggest tree in the world.

Check out the full article and a few more photos at All That’s Interesting.

 

 

 

Kosmoss

As somebody famous once said, we are the pale blue dot. From far enough away, invisible. Insignificant. Tiny. An isolated speck in an isolationist universe. In the cold mountain air, I found the stars had an extra sharpness at night. Humans can go so far in that darkness, but it is laughably close on the grand scale of galaxies. Here’s a peek into the great universe, as taken by me in Austria:

Our satellite, our companion.
©rq, all rights reserved.

My favourite constellation, Orion. We call it the Hunter here, and I wonder if its variety of names is as diverse as that of the Big Dipper?
©rq, all rights reserved.

But as much as I want to be just excited about another scientific and technological achievement, it’s hard to disconnect from the news today. Humans can be so selfish, and inconsiderate, and greedy, and destructive. Anyway, here’s Muriel Rukeyser back in 1968:

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.
I lived in the first century of these wars.

It appears to be the second century of these wars. And the universe goes on and will go on without us, because humans are just that important. I just wish we could be selfish enough to consider mutual survival.

Youtube Video: Are electric cars really green?

Potholer 54 delivers an excellently researched video, as usual. I have just watched it and since I have nothing better to post at the moment, here it is.

Unfortunately there is still one big hurdle in the way progress here. I wanted to actually buy an electric car, but unfortunately the upfront costs are still to prohibitive for me. No matter how much the prices of electric cars have fallen, the purchasing cost of an electric equivalent of my current car are three times higher. Whic means I would have to save up money for three years to get that car. And in the mean time I would not have any car whatsoever.

Signs of Autumn

 

The signs of autumn from Nightjar,

These are the four signs that I look for every year before I can safely declare autumn has arrived. Leaf colour, autumn snowflakes, mushrooms and green grass. I was able to check all four boxes by the end of October, which is good!

 

1. Leaves change colour and glow in the sun

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Macedonia 6 – This Place Rocks

Let me start off by saying that I miss rocks. I grew up on the Canadian shield, and granite outcroppings were a regular fixture of my childhood, along with mica-and-quartz hunting, breaking beaver dams and catching leeches in the pond.

And while I miss all of those things to greater or lesser degree, I wasn’t prepared for my own rather overly emotional response to seeing large pieces of rock (as in, cliffs and boulders you can stand on and not individual erratics but part of a mountain!). I went up the mountain in Macedonia expecting a nice view, but got a shoe full of quartz fragments (pocket, but nevertheless) and tears in my eyes. It was beautiful. Well, kind of dull and brown and grey, but beautiful.

And then! Coming down the mountain (I have a story about this but I will place it with some pleasant picture of flowers in a later post) I saw many more incredible rocky things that warmed the cockles of my heart. Behold.

This is actually the view that made me cry. Glorious, innit? ©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

More after the break, but first, here’s your song.

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Foxmom

This photo is just a delight. It’s always a wonder when we can catch a glimpse of such a cautious wild creature. It came from Avalus who says,

A foxmother, that lives in an abandoned Garden just next to the house I live in. She has three cubs, but I only have this one image, as I usually meet them only when it is to dark for photos.

She has her eye on you, Avalus. Thanks for sharing.

foxmom, ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Funny Animals

The finalists of the 2018 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are out, and they’re a blast. Here’s a couple of my favourites:

© Achim Sterna/The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2018

 

© Mary McGowan/The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2018

 

© Roie Galitz/The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2018

 

© Kallol Mukherjee/The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2018

 

And lots more

Today’s piece of music is more of a dance showcase, in the theme of colourful animals. Below the fold because spiders.

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Not Quite Tree Tuesday

The trees are doing something odd out in northern Ontario:

In the forests of northern Ontario, a “strange phenomenon” of large natural rings occurs, where thousands of circles, as large as two kilometers in diameter, appear in the remote landscape.

Via this link: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Aerial-photograph-of-forest-rings-with-diameters-of-approximately-150-m-in-northern_fig1_292337890, which leads to a very scientific article on the phenomenon.

The article assures us that this is nothing unnatural or particularly mysterious:

Indeed, as geochemist Stew Hamilton suggested in 1998, the rings are most likely to be surface features caused by “reduced chimneys,” or “big centres of negative charge that frequently occur over metal deposits,” where a forest ring is simply “a special case of a reduced chimney.”

Reduced chimneys, meanwhile, are “giant electrochemical cells” in the ground that, as seen through the example of forest rings, can affect the way vegetation grows there.

I’ve been out there and it looked fine to me, but things get even weirder and weirder the more I read – but that just might be the full article going in all kinds of directions, especially at the end. But the tree rings are cool. And maybe it’s aliens…

Jack’s Walk

The rolling hills of home, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Autumn is definitely in the air around here. The days are cooler and the nights are crisp and Jack couldn’t be happier. You see, the boy hates warm weather. His fur is thick and because he ocean swims in the summer he doesn’t lose his undercoat. He also has a bit of a fat pad that makes it even harder to stay cool. So when the weather turns and autumn comes Jack gets energized. Even now at 10 years old he is full of piss and vinegar. I don’t mind at all. Go ahead Jack and use that tail to clear the coffee table. Scratch my floors with those talons of yours and bark at every passing car. It was a long hot summer, but it’s finally time to have some fun.

Wot Lives in the Goldenrod

rq has sent us a little series about various flowers and their residents. First one is goldenrod, and it looks like  Solidago canadensis, which is quite common throughout Europe. Sadly this beautiful plant is not only strong allergen in the late summer, here it is also an invasive weed that is damaging the environment by outcompeting local species and creating essentialy monocultures in places.

But enough with being a killjoy – they are beautiful and that is important here and now.

©rq, all rights reserved, click for full size.