Now that Kyleen and I are back in Kansas and (mostly) recovered from our field work excursions, we’ve started prepping the cores we took at GTNP. Today, we mounted the cores in wood blocks to hold them still while sanding them with a power sander. Notice Kyleen is wearing all the appropriate safety gear, AND her GTNP souvenir t-shirt! 😀
We have now sanded, scanned, and labeled all of our cores and are ready to measure ring widths and begin looking for correlations with climate (precip and temp on monthly, seasonal, and annual scales). Climate data will be obtained from PRISM which models climate parameters across the contiguous United States as far back as 1895. As you can see in the core to the left, our trees are likely much older than ~120 years. Still, that long of a record will hopefully shed light on climate drivers of growth for white barks.
We also hope to use the ages of the trees to estimate dates of establishment for this watershed. This may be difficult, as many of the older trees had rotted out in the center of the trunk (this is common in trees), and so we cannot get an exact age of each tree. We can, however, at least provide a minimum age of the stand. Also, if Kyleen can core some smaller trees in July (which will give us the full bark-to-pith chronology), we may be able to build a regression based on the relationship between tree age and size and extrapolate out to our larger trees for which the center was rotted out.