Dating Houses and Reconstructing Climate

September 22nd, 2014

porchThe Wooster Geology Climate Change class spent a beautiful fall day in Stony Creek, Ohio coring beams in three structures of historical significance. They will determine the cut dates (calendar dates when the timber for the houses were felled) for the homeowners and then examine the tree-ring data that results to help reconstruct drought for the region. The class will write a report for the homeowner as part of the project. The Wooster tree-ring lab has dated over 50 buildings. Many of the reports are archived here.

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Willy coring a hand hewn beam with an increment borer in the basement of one of the structures.

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Dan cores into the white oak beam as Meredith keeps the utilities at bay.

 julia

Julia identifies the outer (bark year) rings of a large oak beam and sets the spoon to extract the core.

haloMeredith and Haley team up to extract another core from a structure.

mounting2Zach shows how the 5 mm core is mounted in a slotted core mount.

coreSarah glues the carefully oriented core into the mount.

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Orienting the core properly is crucial for the next step of sanding the surface. This interdisciplinary group of historians, archaeologists, communication studies and geologists will learn bit about history of Ohio while learning some of the statistics of climate change and earning a Q (quantitative) course credit.

houseThe group should be able to determine when the timber was cut to build this restored structure. Sometime in early November the analyses should be completed.

extra_coringSome extracurricular coring of young white pines in the area.

From the Russian wilderness to the big city!

August 15th, 2014

Guest Blogger: Sarah Frederick (’15)

Arriving in Moscow was a sharp return to reality. Suddenly all of the things that had come to feel normal while we were in Kamchatka – the winding gravel roads and little towns with random meandering livestock that would peek in your windows – were replaced by traffic jams and the overwhelming immensity of the city!

Russia Blog Pics - 09One unique experience in Kamchatka was shopping. Shopping, like everything else in Russia is a very long, arduous process that takes hours longer than it should. Above is shown a typical store in Kamchatka. All of the goods are located behind the counter, so each item had to be individually requested from the shopkeeper. However, in all likelihood the first shop you visited would not have half of the items you required, so you would have to visit two or three additional establishments to find everything you needed. Even so, simple necessities like bread or beer were not always available. Also, take note of the high tech abacus being used!

The items we purchased were also completely foreign to me. While I was initially pretty skeptical, everything was quite tasty if you had an expert cook like Tatiana to prepare it!

Russia Blog Pics - 13Cow-in-a-can anyone? More commonly referred to as Tushonka.

Russia Blog Pics - 15There are a variety of culinary influences present. Lots of Uzbek cuisine, but we also encountered Georgian, Russian, and Ukrainian dishes. A common afternoon meal with borscht, beat soup of Ukranian origin, is pictured above.

While in Moscow we toured the Institute, a towering majestic building, one of seven built around the city, which houses several departments of Moscow State University, a museum, faculty and students.

Russia Blog Pics - 16An apartment in the wing to the right was actually our home for the duration of our visit.

 While in Moscow we of course visited the touristy section of the city.

DSCN2787The Kremlin

Russia Blog Pics - 17Dr. Wiles with our two hosts, Olga and Vladimir in front of St. Basils.

DSCN2794One of the prominent monuments on the Red Square is Lenin’s tomb. He has been on public display since shortly after his death in 1924.

Russia Blog Pics - 03One last picture from Kamchatka. Thanks for following us through our journey! We look forward to reporting on our findings from the lab soon!

The Wooster Geologists of Team Alaska present at the 2013 Geological Society of America Meeting

October 29th, 2013

AndyAbby102913DENVER, COLORADO–We last saw the dynamic tree-coring duo of Abby VanLeuven (’14) and Andy Nash (’14) in wet, muddy, glorious Alaska pursuing their Independent Study research with Dr. Greg Wiles. They cleaned up nicely and today presented two posters at the 2013 annual meeting of the GSA in Denver. Abby is the senior author on the poster above, entitled: “Case studies of divergence along the North Pacific Rim“. On the poster below Andy is the senior author, and it is titled: “Tree-ring dating the neoglacial ice advance of Wachusett Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, southeast Alaska, USA“.

AbbyAndy102913Well done, Team Alaska!

Checking in from the Far East

August 14th, 2013

We are currently finishing our first leg of field research on Sakhalin Island, Fareast Russia, and today we are traveling to Vladivostok to stage the next two weeks of sampling climate-sensitive trees. This is  collaborative Wooster project funded by NSF with Kevin Anchukaitis (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) and Rosanne D’Arrigo (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory). Our Russian collaborators include Olga Solomina (Russian Academy of Sciences), researchers Ekaterina Dolgova; Eugenio Grabenko Vladimir Matskovsky, Tatiana Maratovna Kouderina and our host on Sakhalin, Yury Gensiorovskiy. Future Wooster student projects will include work on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Sikhote-Atlin Mountains and the Kurile Islands.

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The team at our final dinner at the Far East Branch of Geological Institute in Yuhzno-Sakhalinsk.

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The group split into two teams to find old and climate sensitive trees on the Island. My group traveled with Victor (above) who ably drove us in the Gas66. Here Victor takes a break on the shore of the Sea of Ohotsk.

 

tatiana_coring

Tatiana (originally from Kazakstan) cores a an old larch in a sea of Pinus Pumulus. This site is on the northern most part of the island – the Smit Peninsula.

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Camp near Nogliki. Olga and I sampled the larch site near here ten years ago and the group updated this important site by re-coring the trees.

strong

This view is of the many pump jacks and oil wells near Oxa. There are many strong landscapes on the island attesting to an extreme history of logging, oil and gas, fire and political upheaval. In spite of this there are many pockets of old growth forests remaining in beautiful settings.

food

The large of local foods including a full range of sea food makes for excellent dinners after a long day.

 

 

Wooster Geologist in the Far East of Russia — and on Russian TV!

August 14th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 9.53.27 AMDr. Greg Wiles, the Ross K. Shoolroy Chair of Natural Resources at Wooster, is currently on an adventurous dendrochronology research trip to the Far East of Russia, including Sakhalin Island. He will have much more to say about it on this blog when he gets the chance. In the meantime, his wife Theresa Ford sent us this link to a Russian news video about his team and their work. The connection is awkward — the video only works for me on my Safari browser — but it is worth the download time to see our Dr. Wiles explaining those wiggly lines and soda straws filled with wood.

There is also a summer 2004 story in Go Nomad touching on Greg’s previous expedition to Sakhalin Island. Theresa found this too, and it was new to me. Here’s a link to a Russian Academy of Sciences page about that earlier research. It has some nice photographs.

Lauren Vargo (’13) starts off the Wooster Geologists in the 2013 Senior Research Symposium at The College of Wooster

April 26th, 2013

LaurenVargo042613WOOSTER, OHIO–The College of Wooster has an annual celebration of Independent Study after all the theses are done and (most) of the oral examinations. It is much fun as our students present their research to the community, which often includes people from the town and quite a few family members. The amount and quality of student research is astounding.

The first Wooster Geologist of the day was Lauren Vargo (above) talking about her I.S. project: “Tree-ring evidence of north Pacific volcanically-forced cooling and forcing of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)”. Hers was a special presentation because she received an Honorable Mention for the Independent Study Research Prize in Sustainability and the Environment. This new prize was established by The College of Wooster Libraries and Gale-Cengage, an e-research and educational publishing company, to encourage undergraduate research in sustainability. You will remember Lauren as one of our video stars, as well as for her fieldwork in Alaska, including this epic blogpost.

The other Wooster seniors are presenting posters this morning and afternoon. We will see them here soon.

Dr. Michael Mann visits Wooster

March 28th, 2013

MichaelMann032713WOOSTER, OHIO–We were honored this week when Dr. Michael E. Mann, one of the world’s foremost climate-change experts and a leader in the efforts to educate the public about anthropogenic effects on the atmosphere, came to Wooster as part of our Richard G. Osgood, Jr., Memorial Lecture series. He gave a public lecture in the nearly-full Gault Recital Hall Wednesday evening (“The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines”), and then a Geology Club lecture the next day in Scovel (“The Past as Prologue: Learning from the Climate Changes in Past Centuries”). Students, faculty and staff of the Geology Department also had a wonderfully informative dinner with him in the Wooster Inn.

Michael Mann is very well known in the diverse community that studies climate change in the past, present and future. He was the senior author of a pivotal article in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001. It set the direction for more than a decade of later climate research. He has written dozens of other papers and two books on climate change. He has received numerous awards, most recently the Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union.

The public Osgood lecture Dr. Mann presented on Wednesday was centered on his latest book. He described the recent scientific history of climate change research and then how he became an “accidental public figure” through the famous “Climategate” theft and publication of private email messages. His stories of attempted congressional interference in his work and that of other climate scientists were astonishing, representing what he calls “the scientization of politics” (where science — or pseudoscience — is used as a political tool).

The image at the top of the page is Dr. Mann near the end of his Osgood Lecture. The image on the screen is of his daughter enjoying a moment in the polar bear pool at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. He fears that someday such animals will be found only in zoos because humans “melted their Arctic environment.” Numerous questions and conversations followed.
MannLecture032813Dr. Mann gave a Geology Club presentation this morning in Scovel Hall on some of his scientific work (shown above). He talked about using proxies to model historical climate change and then predict future climate.
WilesMann032813For me one of the best moments was his conversation with Greg Wiles in our dendrochronology lab (above). It was great fun to see how the work of Wooster Geologists is part of the unfolding grand story of what factors control our climate, and why such research is critical in our efforts to cope with future changes.

The Dendrochronology Team of Wooster Geologists makes its television debut

February 28th, 2013

Gwiles022813aBarn Detectives” is a recent episode of the television show Our Ohio, and it features Dr. Greg Wiles and his team of crack dendrochronologists. You can view the video by clicking the link. It is very well done. The project described in the program is the dating of the Emerson barn in Apple Creek, Ohio. These Wooster scientists study the tree rings in the beams which were used in the original structure. Careful analysis of these rings will show the year the old-growth trees were cut for timber, and thus the date of the building. This work not only gives the Emerson family a date for a treasured building, it also provides additional dendrochronological data for studying climate change in the last two centuries.

Nwiesenberg022813Our geological technician Nick Wiesenberg provides explanations of the process from the barn, a local old-growth forest (Johnson Woods, see above), and the dendrochronology lab at Wooster.

lvargo022813Geology senior Lauren Vargo describes the value of tree rings for climate history, and is shown in several action shots of coring and sanding.

anash022813Andy Nash, another geology senior, describes the construction of “floating chronologies” from tree cores that are eventually tied to the larger dendrochronological record to give dates to the wood. (With an accuracy, as Greg likes to say, of “plus or minus zero years”.)

gwiles022813bBack in the lab, Greg shows how the cores from the Emerson barn are counted and measured with our video microscope system. On the monitor is a magnified view of rings from the Emerson barn.

nwiesenberg022813bNick had the honor of announcing the calculated date the trees were cut to make the barn’s beams: (Spoiler Alert!) the Fall of 1845. The ground would have been hard then and the farmers would have had time to collect materials for the construction.

It was great fun to see our students and colleagues explain their work so well, and to show the world the enthusiasm and professional skills of Wooster’s dendrochronologists.

The full “Barn Detectives” video is available on YouTube at this link.

Contemporary melting of northwestern glaciers: A new paper by Wooster Geologists … and the ultimate finish of an Independent Study adventure

January 25th, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWooster geology graduate Nathan Malcomb, now a scientist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service, has just published an important paper with his advisor Greg Wiles in the journal Quaternary Research (affectionately known as “QR”). This work comes directly from Nathan’s Independent Study research with Greg, a project that was supported by the Henry J. Copeland Fund for Independent Study at Wooster. (A view of their field area in Valdez, southern Alaska, is shown above.) This is one part of Greg’s very productive Alaskan research program with his students.

Nathan and Greg used tree-ring series from temperature- and moisture-sensitive trees to reconstruct annual mass balances for six glaciers in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. They show strong evidence to support their hypothesis that the retreat of these glaciers we see today is a unique event in the last several centuries. This melting is “dominated by global climate forcing”. Recent climate change is again demonstrated by careful data collection and well designed tests.

Glacier_Bay_Coring585

Sarah Appleton (’12) on one of the Alaskan coring expeditions.

Lauren_Juneau585

Lauren Vargo (’13) demonstrating excellent coring technique.

Reference:

Malcomb, N.L. and Wiles, G.C. 2013. Tree-ring-based reconstructions of North American glacier mass balance through the Little Ice Age — Contemporary warming transition. Quaternary Research (in press), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yqres.2012.11.005

Wooster Geologists on Camera — Spotlight on Dendrochronology

November 16th, 2012

WOOSTER, OHIO–Greg Wiles and members of his crack dendrochronology team from our tree-ring laboratory are being filmed today for a PBS program called “Our Ohio“. It is great fun watching the TV crew setting up their equipment, and our faculty, staff and students getting ready for their close-ups. We thought you might like to see a few pictures of the process. In the image above you see Greg thoughtfully listening to instructions from the field producer.

Here’s a closer view of the camera set-up, including a small monitor that shows exactly what the camera sees.

Jenn Horton (’13), looking stylish and Wooster-branded, is talking to the film crew as they set up the dendrochronology lab with lights. Tree-ring lab veterans know this room well! (I think it looks a little cleaner than usual.)

Greg Wiles and our ace technician Nick Wiesenberg at one of the dendrochronology stations prior to filming. Nick had just dated a particular barn in question as having been built in — spoiler alert! — 1845. A preliminary date, Greg quickly adds.

The TV crew van parked outside Scovel Hall this morning, greatly enhancing our departmental prestige on campus. (Everyone knows, after all, they didn’t come here to interview philosophers.)

We hope to have more photos later of the outdoor filming. Well done, Wooster dendrochronologists!

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