Redwoods Record Ancient Ocean Climate

Redwood trees.

The tallest trees on the planet, the coastal redwood, trapped a record of the Pacific Ocean within their ancient wood.

Centuries of fog from the ocean left a chemical signature in the rings of the massive redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) that was distinct from the chemicals left by rainwater. A recent study identified that difference and used it to reconstruct the climate patterns of the past 50 years. The same method could produce a Pacific Ocean weather report stretching back to the Roman empire.

“Redwoods are restricted to a very narrow strip along the coastline,” co-author Jim Johnstone said in a press release. “They’re tied to the coastline, and they’re sensitive to marine conditions, so they actually may tell you more about what’s happening over the ocean than they do about what’s happening over land.”

Coastal redwoods can live for nearly 2,000 years. However, until now, the erratic patterns of the trees’ rings limited their usefulness in reconstructing climate from the size of growth rings, a technique known as dendrochronology. Coastal redwoods may grow incomplete rings that don’t always complete the circle around the trunk. This makes it difficult to count the rings to learn the trees’ age or measure the rings to learn about the weather in each year of the trees’ lives.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Visit The Redwoods | Not the Family Business! - November 11, 2013
  2. More Redwoods! | Not the Family Business! - December 4, 2013

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