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Secrets in the Rings: What Tree-Rings Can Tell us About our Past, Present, & Future Environments

02/10/2021 | 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm EST

DESCRIPTION: Trees are truly wonderful things. Not only do they convert water and sunlight through photosynthesis to make oxygen and energy that supports countless organisms, but they also carefully record what our past environment has been like in the width and structure of their rings. While counting tree rings can tell us how old a tree was, examination of their width and other characteristics can tell us about past climate like droughts, the occurrence of volcanic eruptions and fire, and changing atmospheric carbon dioxide, among other things.

Old trees have records that go back 100s and sometimes 1000s of years, giving us a benchmark to compare the rapid changes in today’s environment against. Join Shelly Rayback to learn more about what trees can tell us about our past and how they might be used to understand environmental problems like climate change and megafires today.


Shelly Rayback is a professor of Geography and the Director of the Environmental Sciences Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at University of Vermont. Her research interests focus on understanding how trees and shrubs record and respond to past climate and other environmental conditions. Her research takes place in locations like the Canadian Arctic, the Cascade Range, the Himalayas and New England. She has an undergraduate degree in English and French from Wellesley College and her Ph.D. in Geography from University of British Columbia, Canada.

What is a Virtual Teen Science Café? It is a free, fun way for teens to explore science, engineering and technology with local scientists, engineers and technology experts. Teens will “meet a scientist”, learn about their work, and be able to participate in informal discussions.


3:30 pm - 4:45 pm EST
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University of Vermont Extension 4-H | VTeen 4-H Science Pathways Café
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