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Chủ Nhật, 22 tháng 12, 2013

Talking trees tell sap flow stories - ABC Local

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Updated December 23, 2013 13:37:29

A device that looks like a hip flask is giving trees a voice.

The sap flow meter, made by a company in northern NSW and used by scientists around the world, is harnessing trees as environmental indicators.

It monitors tree health by measuring stem flow.

Dr Peter Cull from ICT International says water movement can indicate the disease status of a tree or give an insight into how trees such as eucalypts survive drought.

"It's important to know where the water is going and how the tree is responding to the environment because you get an indication about how well adapted it is to that environment."

Mr Cull says water can move up eucalypts at 20 cm an hour.

"It can be up to 50cm on a hot day."

Mr Cull says assessing water movement can aid in planning for climate change.

"If we have climate change, how will this tree respond to the environment?

"Some eucalypts cannot tolerate several more degrees rise in temperature. They, in fact, shut down their water use.

"Others respond positively and continue to grow."

Mr Cull says the more water a tree uses, the greater ability it has to store carbon.

"Broadly, the more water they use, the bigger they grow, and the more stem or wood they have.

"Then, about 50 per cent of the wood is carbon so the more the tree grows, the more carbon it stores."

Dr Cull's colleague and plant scientist, Alex Downey, says Australian mining companies have embraced the technology, particularly in WA's Pilbara region.

"They're looking at documenting the state of ecosystem before, during and after mining.

"They can see what impact of dewatering the landscape may have on iconic eucalyptus species like the Coolabah."

Mr Downey says coal seam gas companies are not using the technology.

"It's disappointing because it's fundamental to the information that governments need in order to make decisions on such high profile and emotive issues such as coal seam gas."

Topics: tree, environmental-impact, environmental-technology, rural, armidale-2350

First posted December 23, 2013 13:34:39

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