The Drought Is Stressing out the Redwoods

Scott Lucas | October 7, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

Between shorter showers, dying lawns, and shrinkage, the recent lack of rain has everyone on edge. But if you thought you had it bad, just ask California's mighty redwoods. But be nice when you ask them, because they're a little stressed right now.

That's according to a team of UC Berkeley scientists, based on the preliminary results of a study of coastal redwoods near Santa Cruz. The trees are just going through some stuff right now. Scientists are worried that high tempratures, as well as lack of fog, could lead to slowed growth, limited reproduction, or even death. Though the trees, some of which date back thousands of years, can weather short-lived tough times, at some point the lack of water and rise in heat can cause a "tipping point," according to Emily Burns, director of science for the Save the Redwoods League. (Is that supposed to be a pun? We're not sure. Bonus points if it was.)

To find out how close that tipping point could be, researchers have climbed twenty trees to take samples that will be frozen in liquid nitrogen and then analyzed for carbon isotopes and sugar content. They've also been drawing on cutting-edge Cub Scout techniques to count tree rings.

Though the redwoods are resilient, that doesn't mean they couldn't benefit from a few stress-busting tips. Oprah recommends meditation, nature walks, and root teas. But since the redwoods are already unconscious, immersed in nature every day, and have plenty of roots, none of that will work. Don't worry too much though, the redwoods are strong, empowered trees. They've been through stuff. They'll make it.

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