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The Tree as Historian - NRC

The Tree as Historian – NRC

It is a windswept island, one of the most isolated places on Earth. Campbell Island, a rugged place in the Southern Ocean between New Zealand and Antarctica. according to Guinness Book of Records 2023farthest tree”, also called “the loneliest tree in the world”. It is Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), actually an exotic species, that hails from the trees of Alaska.

Guinness calls the tree “lonely” because the nearest tree to it is located 250 km away in the Auckland Islands. Tree lovers and scientists from all over the world travel there to see the spruce, which is only nine meters tall. It’s oddly shaped, broadly projecting and not skinny. Reportedly, year after year, scientists removed the top to serve as a Christmas tree. The tree is also swept by the wind in harsh climates.

giant flowers

Recently, the tree has become world news. Not because he feels very lonely there, because he is surrounded by rich flora and fauna, starting with the colorful giant herbaceous flowers (Mega Herbs) for sea lions and albatrosses. No, New Zealand researchers found that a tree ‘can reveal secrets about carbon dioxide storage’2 In the Southern Ocean”, such as Watchman Reports .

The age of the tree has been determined to be more than a hundred years, and it was planted by Lord Ranfurly, then Governor of New Zealand around 1900. This is why the tree is also called the Ranfurly tree. Until 1973, the Sitka spruce faced competition for being the most isolated of the Teneri, an acacia tree in the Niger desert. This one was also called Arberry Purdue, the lost tree, because no other tree grows within 400 km. It was considered a pilgrimage site and a landmark for caravans in the desert, until a drunk truck driver broke that tree.

How does that single, century-old tree on Campbell Island solve climate questions?

How does that single, century-old tree on Campbell Island solve climate questions? Quite simply, says Antarctic scientist Jocelyn Turnbull of New Zealand: “If you examine growth rings, you can tell how much carbon is stored in them. Because the Southern Ocean is not just carbon dioxide.2 Absorbed but also returned, this yield can be read into the tree by taking a ‘core sample’, with a deep dig into the trunk. This way you can understand the speed at which it is happening.”

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“Great Thrill”

Another scientist, Australian biologist Jonathan Palmer, sees the tree as “a chronicler, a chronicler of man’s participation in the Earth.” In an email, he said it “was a great feeling to see the tree for the first time.” That was in 2013. The search for the tree is a search in time. What makes it so fascinating is the power with which it lives in the exotic Southern Hemisphere. So a new comer. One lonely tree, many stories.