Science Diary: Redwoods – Replacements

music; ambience

“This tree is actually pretty short for this canopy. It’s not quite 300 feet tall. But almost every tree around me is well over 300 feet. It’s very quiet. There’s not very many animals up here.”

Steve Sillett is an ecologist at Humboldt State University who works high up in the leafy canopy of America’s giant redwoods. He’s repairing devices today that monitor the tree’s sap flow. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.

“Oh, my. It’s just an endless project. Hopefully the data will make this all worthwhile. People romanticize canopy science, but they don’t realize how excruciating it can be.”

ambience: rope

Sillett is working along Bull Creek, in California’s Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to more than 100 trees over 350 feet tall; it’s the world’s tallest forest.

“We have 15 trees along Bull Creek where we’re monitoring the sap flow, or the water use by the entire tree. And they range in size from 113 meters tall down to about 68 meters tall. So we’re really getting a sense for how the tree’s size affects its whole tree water use efficiency and so on. But for now, we’re troubleshooting because these systems were made in Australia in a climate where apparently it doesn’t rain much. And here in the redwood forest where it rains a lot, and even if it’s not raining it’s dripping fog, we’ve had water intrusion into the electronics which has caused a lot of these sap flow probes to wink out. And so what we’re doing today is replacements.”

We’ll hear more about these giant redwoods in future programs.

And check out our new project, The Kids’ Science Challenge, on pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.

Science Diary: Redwoods - Replacements

Big tree, tiny sensors - it's all in a day's work for redwood canopy researchers.
Air Date:07/22/2008
Scientist:
Transcript:

music; ambience

“This tree is actually pretty short for this canopy. It's not quite 300 feet tall. But almost every tree around me is well over 300 feet. It's very quiet. There's not very many animals up here.”

Steve Sillett is an ecologist at Humboldt State University who works high up in the leafy canopy of America’s giant redwoods. He’s repairing devices today that monitor the tree’s sap flow. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.

“Oh, my. It’s just an endless project. Hopefully the data will make this all worthwhile. People romanticize canopy science, but they don’t realize how excruciating it can be.”

ambience: rope

Sillett is working along Bull Creek, in California’s Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to more than 100 trees over 350 feet tall; it’s the world’s tallest forest.

“We have 15 trees along Bull Creek where we're monitoring the sap flow, or the water use by the entire tree. And they range in size from 113 meters tall down to about 68 meters tall. So we're really getting a sense for how the tree's size affects its whole tree water use efficiency and so on. But for now, we're troubleshooting because these systems were made in Australia in a climate where apparently it doesn't rain much. And here in the redwood forest where it rains a lot, and even if it's not raining it's dripping fog, we've had water intrusion into the electronics which has caused a lot of these sap flow probes to wink out. And so what we're doing today is replacements.”

We’ll hear more about these giant redwoods in future programs.

And check out our new project, The Kids’ Science Challenge, on pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.