Will These Ancient Trees Survive a Drying West?

Blue oak trees are struggling to survive in California's drought-scorched foothills.
Blue oak trees up to 500 years old thrive in California's drought-scorched foothills. Their rings provide a unique record of drought and wetness for the Golden State. 2014 image by Daniel Griffin.

Deep within the trunks of an ancient grove of big-cone Douglas fir trees lie traces of a megadrought 450 years in the past. But signs of the worst drought these trees have ever seen can now be found just beneath their bark. Daniel Griffin is an assistant professor in Geography at the University of Minnesota where he studies climate and ecosystem change — past and present — through data collected from tree rings. His op-ed is an insightful, gripping, and beautifully written piece rich in illustrations.

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