The Death of a Spruce Tree

For the longest time now, we have known that forests directly affect climate change, but we still have yet to figure out just how much climate change can affect forests; especially when we haven’t been able to even measure just how much carbon dioxide the average tree can hold. These are all things that one study had been focusing on as they observed a Canadian forest for the past 13 years. The study took data both from the tree rings of trees and just by observing how many trees died over the 13 years.

The process of these two things is what provided the researchers with plenty of data between 2001 and 2012. The rings of trees alone offered information about what kind of long term growth problems and periods those trees faced. But the rings couldn’t help them with when trees died, which is why they recorded it over that period. All of this was done in an effort to understand just what climate can do to tree growth. Of course they could only draw on their small sample, which is why they settled with a patch of black spruce trees in Canada.

The result of the process led to the discovery that there was a link between some trees dying and other ones seeing a growth rate increase. A significant amount of trees died during their period of study, but only three trees grew to a level that they could be considered replacing some of the trees that died. This meant, while the spruce trees weren’t reproducing quickly, they were dying out and even more interesting was that the trees were dying out in correlation to about five years after they had a depressed growth rate, and when they did trees around them became fattened up and received a better growth rate for that year.

The results concluded as well that there might be reason to tackle the study that was done around the carbon dioxide intake of trees, as the previous study that was done in the 90s was during a time of depressed growth for the same set of trees. This means spruce trees may be absorbing far more carbon dioxide than we originally thought, but it could be years before we see a study like the one that was conducted to determine what amount of carbon a forest tended to absorb.