The Tree-Ring Expeditions (TREX) faculty workshop at William Paterson on May 12, was geared towards educating attendees on the different facets and benefits of integrating dendrochronology (the study of annual rings in trees) into the classroom.
Among those who conducted the workshop were Dr. Nicole Davi, paleoclimate scientist/dendrochronologist and assistant professor of Environmental Science at William Paterson, along with former instructors and curriculum developers, Jeff Lockwood and Jack Daly, and retired professor Ida Greidanus of Passaic County Community College.
“Yes, I think it was successful. We had a lot of interest at WPU and PCCC, and unfortunately, we didn’t have a spot for everyone that wanted to participate. Faculty had a chance to get out into the field to core trees, and they also were able to work through one of the labs and see how students could create their own tree-ring datasets using the TREX lab,” said Davi.
Participants included a wide range of faculty members in the education, life sciences, mathematics, and business fields.
According to Davi, tree-rings are widely recognized as an accurate indicator of past environmental conditions. She believes this is an exceptionally important tool for scientists and students because tree-rings are intuitive to most people and can provide practical information
Using dendrochronological research, scientists are better able to understand climate of the past several thousand years. These records then help them hypothesize what could happen in the future. Each annual tree-ring provides an accurate estimation of the summer growing conditions for each year the tree grew. Scientists sample hundreds of trees, and after compiling data, an extensive tree-ring based temperature reconstruction can be produced.
Davi has traveled across the globe performing research in places like Mongolia and Alaska. Her expertise in the scientific field stems from her evidence that tree-rings can provide information on climate that is not yet fully understood or proven with the readily available meteorological data in countries that don’t have extensive weather records.
Anyone interested can get more involved on the Trex website, where “students have the opportunity to use many of the same tools and strategies that tree-ring scientists do, including: virtually exploring important tree-ring sites, measuring and evaluating data from those sites and using online research and analysis tools and databanks.”
Students can even get advice from scientists about how to build a career in the field from the site as well. Dendrochronology can be a fascinating and beneficial field, and can be a strong first step to learn how to be a climate scientist.