What can “the loneliest tree on the planet” teach science.

What can “the loneliest tree on the planet” teach science.

What can “the loneliest tree on the planet” teach science.

“It’s alone on this windy, low-growing island in the Southern Ocean, 700 kilometers south of New Zealand.” The Sitka Spruce evoked by The Guardian has made a place within the Guinness World Record in its quality of“The most isolated tree on the planet”, says the British newspaper.

Its closest neighbor grows 222 kilometers away, on the islands of Auckland, another uninhabited archipelago in New Zealand.

The lone tree, 9 meters high, believed to have been planted by Lord Ranfurly, a Briton who served as the governor of New Zealand from 1897 to 1904, “could help solve some climate change puzzles”, according to a team of New Zealand researchers. In particular, this fir could help to better understand the carbon dioxide absorption process in the Southern Ocean.

Where has the CO gone?2 ?

In 2016, researchers pulled a 5-millimeter carrot from the tree to conduct a study whose results have not yet been disclosed. Analyzing these tree rings should allow them to assess the amount of CO2 preserved in wood. Jocelyn Turnbull, carbon-14 dating specialist at GNS Science, the New Zealand institute geological and nuclear sciences, reminds us that only half of the carbon dioxide emitted by the use of fossil fuels remains in the atmosphere. The other half goes to the oceans and soil.

“It turns out that the Southern Ocean is a carbon sink and has absorbed about 10% of the CO2 issued by man in the last one hundred and fifty years “, notes the researcher. But get up The Guardian: “Previous studies on carbon uptake by the Southern Ocean have produced conflicting results.”

In general, atmospheric sampling is the best method for measuring CO concentrations.2, “But we cannot collect the air that was thirty years ago”, observes Jocelyn Turnbull. That’s why she and her team turned to tree rings, especially those of Campbell’s Island spruce (see video below), “the southernmost tree the team managed to find”. The researcher points out:

“It has grown a lot faster than anything else [dans cette région]and the rings are larger and easier to separate.

The data it will provide could allow researchers to answer some of their questions: What is the absorption capacity of carbon sinks? We can help them absorb more CO2 ?

However, concludes the British newspaper, “Lately the Sitka Spruce, accustomed to its desert island, must be feeling less alone.”

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