The oldest working door in Britain. We know because tree rings!

The BBC reports on the oldest working door in Britain: Archaeologists discovered the oak door in Westminster Abbey was put in place in the 1050s, during the reign of the Abbey’s founder, Edward the Confessor. It makes it the only surviving Anglo Saxon door in Britain. We most often think about the use of tree …

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The relationship between beetle kills and forest fire

In contrast to common assumptions of positive feedbacks, we find that insects generally reduce the severity of subsequent wildfires. Specific effects vary with insect type and timing, but both insects decrease the abundance of live vegetation susceptible to wildfire at multiple time lags. By dampening subsequent burn severity, native insects could buffer rather than exacerbate …

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5 million years ago, when the Colorado River made its first dash to the sea

In a neat new paper looking at sediment layers near Blythe, California, Jordan Bright of the University of California and colleagues (paper here, $ gated) argue that they’ve found evidence of the moment (in geological time, the “moment” is really hundreds of years) when the Colorado River made its first dash to the sea. The …

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Tree Rings and Megadroughts

Mount Holyoke’s “Academic Minute” has a nice interview with Park Williams, who’s been using tree rings to flesh out the story of the current drought in the context of historic droughts, as it pertains to forests in the Southwest: I study the year-by-year records left by these rings, and they tell a fascinating story more …

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In defense of “vapor pressure deficit”

If you follow weather forecasts, you’ve heard about “relative humidity” (RH). But it’s one of those maddeningly less-than-useful measures of our weather that probably needs to be just retired. That’s wishful thinking, of course. But in an interesting introduction to their latest research into the increasing dryness of the air and the risk of fire …

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