Tag: trees

Treehugging science

Scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have published a study, Evidence for a recent increase in forest growth, suggesting that climate change can quite literally be measured by treehuggers. Like the average American citizen, American trees look to have had increasingly bulging middles in recent decades.  Having spent their careers quite literally hugging trees, SERC scientists Geoffrey Parker and Sean McMahon have written a study documenting

evidence that forests in the Eastern United States are growing faster than they have in the past 225 years. The study offers a rare look at how an ecosystem is responding to climate change.

For over 20 years, Parker has gone into a set of forests in the mid-Atlantic, tape measure in hand, and giving them a hug to measure their size. Parker’s own hugging has been extended with a robust group of volunteers conducting regular measurements of specified trees. (The boy scout to the right, while in a SERC forest, isn’t engaged in actual measurements for the study.) Some 250,000 hugs later, he has quite a database in hand.

The results of analyzing hugs surprised these researchers. Based on the data from these 100,000s of hugs, Parker’s and McMahon’s analysis documents

that the forest is packing on weight at a much faster rate than expected. … on average, the forest is growing an additional 2 tons per acre annually. That is the equivalent of a tree with a diameter of 2 feet sprouting up over a year.

Now, there are many things that contribute to plant growth, from soil quality to rainfall to temperatures to CO2 concentrations. Parker and McMahon have concluded that the driver for the bulging middles of the studied groves is best explained through human impacts: the rising levels of CO2 (a nutrition); and the warmer temperatures and extended growing season due to global warming (driven, in no small part, due to the rising CO2 levels).

Strangle or embrace?

sfigcosta rica

crossposted at Wild Wild Left and also antemedius

Take this as a gift, this metaphor….  Run with it, if you like.

Which way do you read this? Are we … Strangler or Embracer?  

In Santa Elena, a small town near Monte Verde, is one of the coolest attractions in all of Costa Rica. The best part about this super secret adventure, its free. This “attraction” isn’t so much of an attraction as it is a dead tree.

Just outside of town, down a dirt road, is a small trail leading off into the forest. About 15 minutes down this trail is an extremely old tree that has been fully consumed by what is known as the Strangler Fig Parasite.

The Strangler Fig Parasite comes when an infected bird poops on top of a tree. The parasite then forms vines that grow down the tree to the trees root system. Once at the tree’s roots, the parasite takes over the tree’s root system and slowly kills off the tree. To make a long story short, the parasite eventually kills the tree, but the vines are left in it’s place. This leaves you with one very, Lord of the Rings looking, hollowed out tree.

The vines of the parasite become very large and very strong, almost tree like. They are so strong in fact, that you can actually climb inside of the tree and use the vines as a “ladder” all the way to the top of the tree. After about 60+ feet of climbing inside the hollowed out tree, you come to a small opening where you can stick your head out and see right at the top of the forests canopy line.


The Construction Phase

The snow has melted, though it did flurry a bit today, the horses decided to sleep in the sunshine this morning.  They picked a spot behind the barn and took a nap while I worked on some projects.  There is an old farm dump on the property that I started clearing out, I rented a dumpster and am quickly filling it up and work on a new rock retaining wall is about half way complete.

The builders showed up this weekend and helped to locate the new house site.  They are a fun-loving family from Vermont that gets along very well.  The father is the most talented carpenter but each son has his own talents as well.  We had lunch and discussed all of the various things to consider when building from scratch.  Luckily: the road into the site is good enough as is to allow for construction vehicles, the house has perfect southern alignment for maximum solar capacity, the spot is already cleared and just needs to be excavated, the tractor should make things easier during the build and they are going to allow me to help with the construction!


Pony Party….this-n-that

Some days there’s nothing i feel like putting in the pony.  Ok, that’s a lie.  Some days im particularly sensitive to the amount of sports content i put in the morning pony ;), but have nothing of substance to say.  On those days i generally hunt for a news story or some other item on the web i can present for discussion.  But on Monday when i am typing this (like with time travel in the douglas adams books, we need new verb tenses to discuss what we’re typing that wont have published until some time before youre reading it but after im typing it…but we’ll save that topic for another day) i’m horrifically unfocused…the Flyers are playing, and, at the risk of sounding whiny..i just dont feel like it…

So here are some finds from my horribly unfocused web travels…

From the “news you can use” category, is it any wonder that this Yahoo!News article caught my attention???

Chocolate may reduce pregnancy complication risk

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is rich in a chemical called theobromine, which stimulates the heart, relaxes smooth muscle and dilates blood vessels, and has been used to treat chest pain, high blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries, Dr. Elizabeth W. Triche of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and colleagues

Apparently after polling new mothers and testing cord blood, researchers found a possible link between higher chocolate consumption and fewer occurrences of preeclampsia.  So I guess all those Peppermint Patties I ate in 1993 were a good idea…  😉  

Masked Man was a Fag

There are those nights where sleep just will not happen. As to the title? It was a Lenny Bruce skit, that someone animated, about what if the Lone Ranger was gay and has nothing to do with my post. The sky is full of stars, it’s a crisp 18 degrees with a steady wind blowing the trees.  The vet came to look at the horses, she said they looked good and their weight was right on track.  White salt lick, mineral lick, oats+grains and lots of hay along with plenty of fresh water seems to cover all the bases.  She has lots of horses too, she breeds Quarterhorses in the next town East.  

Today I fixed the electric fence by untangling it from some trees, fixing some broken connectors and driving in some new stakes. There was some old brittle lattice on the covered patio that had to come down.  An apple tree had a real bad case of “black knot” and had to be chopped down before the disease spread to the other trees, luckily I have two new apple trees on order.


*whimper* (Updated)

Straight from the pages of Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper.

Twilight Zone / Cut short By Gideon Levy

Here’s a short excerpt:

And to all Israelis, al-Adam says: “Our neighbors are not the Europeans or the Americans. You are our neighbors and we have to watch out for one another. We’re living here and not hurting anyone. For years I brought up my children to live together [with Israelis], telling them we have to live together, and now they don’t believe me anymore.” The farmer says these things while standing amid the ruins of his land, which he had worked and nurtured for two years, having transformed the rocky ground into fruit orchards and fields of vegetables and grains. But it was short-lived: A few weeks ago, bulldozers dispatched by the Civil Administration showed up and destroyed all of his fields and his neighbors’. There went the grapevines and the young fruit trees – all uprooted. The magnificent terraces al-Adam had built were destroyed along with the wells they had dug. Just a few days before Tu Bishvat, Jewish Arbor Day, Israel showed them just how much regard it really has for trees.

The European Union had provided generous aid to these farmers in Beit Ula as part of an extensive development project covering almost 100 dunams (25 acres). The farmers invested their own money and much toil in the project, but in the end, all it took was a few hours of work by the Civil Administration’s bulldozers – accompanied by foreign workers hired as an auxiliary destructive force for Israel – to trample it into oblivion.

It’s not your average Israel vs. Palestine story and it’s heartbreaking.

Just go read it. You’ll understand.

(hat’tip Cranky Old Bitch)

Trees Quit – Sink Clinton, Edwards, and Obama CO2 Plans

More unfortunate climate change news for us and the candidates – this time from the boreal forests. The Guardian and others are reporting on a new study that finds trees are absorbing less CO2 as the world warms.

The ability of forests to soak up man-made carbon dioxide is weakening, according to an analysis of two decades of data from more than 30 sites in the frozen north.

The finding published today is crucial, because it means that more of the CO2 we release will end up affecting the climate in the atmosphere rather than being safely locked away in trees or soil.

The results may partly explain recent studies suggesting that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing faster than expected. If higher temperatures mean less carbon is soaked up by plants and microbes, global warming will accelerate.

Worldwide, only tropical rainforests are larger then boreal or northern forests. They cover Alaska, northern Canada, Scandinavia and Siberia.