Questions to think about:
What do you think will happen to trees if our climate gets warmer?
How can you tell how old a tree is?
What is the definition of a tree?
The tree line or timberline is the edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing. Beyond the tree line, they are unable to grow because of inappropriate environmental conditions (usually cold temperatures, insufficient air pressure, or lack of moisture).
At the tree line here in Churchill, tree growth is often very stunted, with the last trees forming low, densely matted bushes. If it is caused by wind, it is known as krumhotlz formation, from the German word for 'twisted wood'.
Extremely cold temperatures can result in freezing of the internal sap of trees, killing them. In addition, permafrost in the soil can prevent trees from getting their roots deep enough for the necessary structural support. The tree line is the northern point in the environment at which trees can no longer grow.
Today our team gathered data on seedlings near a natural tree island. We had to figure out how old each tree was by the number of whorls it had. In order to be called a tree, these saplings have to have just one main stem and be two meters above the mean winter snowpack.
All the data we gather on each sapling is kept in a large Excel file. Out in the field we load it into Palm Pilots then download and consolidate it back at the science center. We had to work together as a team to problem solve different issues. For example when it started raining today our marker wouldn't work and we had to figure out a way to keep track of a long list of centimeters to add up. The most important part is looking at our data and seeing if it makes sense. Are we all measuring the same thing the same way? Are we taking accurate measurements? Can we ignore all the bugs and still measure correctly?
Making sense of changes in our environment takes a lot of work by a lot of people in al ot of places. But it's extremely important for us to understand what is happening to our planet since it's the only home we have!
For more pictures please click below.