USA: Acres of destruction left by Colorado’s historic avalanche season are also delivering climate change evidence

Source(s)
The Colorado Sun

By Joe Purtell

stunning avalanche season saw thousands of slides snap mature tree trunks like twigs, wipe historic buildings off the map and radically alter Colorado’s mountain landscape.

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Now a team of researchers is working through the wreckage, collecting cross sections from the fallen trees that they say will help them learn more about the relationship of climate to avalanche cycles.

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Colorado hopes to use the research to improve building codes to keep power lines and homes out of harm’s way. The huge sample size also may help other scientists who can examine tree rings to learn about Colorado’s climate long before white settlers began recording information.

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By dating trees in avalanche paths, researchers can measure the length of time between avalanche cycles. This type of work is known as dendroecology — the study of tree-ring patterns and the ecological factors that create them, which can include climate. 

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