Tomorrow I begin my Ecology 1b project, with the aim of answering the question: ‘Is there a link between higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and the growth rate in ash trees?’
I admit that on the outset this does not seem like the most enthralling of projects, but here I will attempt to justify why it is in fact ‘quite interesting’.
Firstly, all recorded data suggests that CO2 levels have soared since the industrial revolution.
Worldwide, trees are incredibly important for carbon sequestration – eg taking CO2 out of the atmosphere, and storing in tree trunks. Plant more trees; store more carbon – It would seem.
We can also model how much CO2 we could remove from the atmosphere through the planting (or the prevention of destruction) of certain trees.
However, we believe that in order to improve these models, we need to find out how the growth rate of trees (and hence carbon storage) changes with increased/decreased CO2.
We will test this hypothesis on Ash, as these fast growing trees are readily available to core in our location. If we find a significant correlation in Ash then it would be important to test other species, especially ones which are currently used in climate models as sources of carbon storage.
As a side to our main study we will also look for general correlations in our tree core data. In 1987 there was a big storm that felled many ancient (and dominant) trees in Surrey. We will check the core data to see if this event is recorded in the subsequent growth rate of surviving trees. Perhaps with more space, and less competition, the growth rate of Ash increased in this location in the Surrey hills.
Lets see how it goes…