Thursday, November 15, 2018

Novel Approach to the Study of Climate Change

Image result for tree buds

Environmental & Science Education
Climate Change
Nature of Science
Edward Hessler

What can 36 years of bike racing footage tell us about climate change? A report in Methods in Ecology and Evolution by Ghent University researchers using this source of data caught the eye of Katie Langin.

Langin, a writer for Science, describes a new source of climate change data. It was old television footage of the Tour de Flanders, "a professional cycling race that's taken place in Belgium nearly every April since 1913."  Much of the race is on heavily cobbled roads.  The University of Ghent researchers  picked out 20 trees that were visible from 1981 to 2016.  The data they collected were simple: presence/absence of leaves and their size.

Langin's short summary is that "the old footage reveals that spring has sprung earlier along the race course in the past decade. In the 1980s, hardly any trees had leaves during the race. But from 2006 to 2016, 45% of trees had at least started growing leaves."

Langin's short essay may be found here. Langin links to the original paper but I copy it here. The abstract is worth reading and provides information about the study, e.g., After viewing >200 hr of film, we compiled 523 individual × year observations of leaf‐out and flowering of 46 individual trees and shrubs visible in four decades (1981–2016) of video footage.
Langin also provides a link to leaf-growth record studies which provide evidence for earlier leafing out times.

h/t Katie Langin, Science

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