Researchers in Germany are using special sensors and data software to both gather and broadcast real-time updates on how the surroundings are affecting the health of oak trees. And you can follow the tree's feed on Twitter.
When these German scientists "listen to the trees," it's not the sound of rustling leaves they are trying to hear. Instead, researchers at the University of Erlangen in Germany are using special sensors and data software to get oak trees "talking" about their state of health and the effects of the environment – and then broadcasting it all straight away on Twitter.
The magnificent common oak in Erlangen's Botanical Garden has a story. It might have been harmed by the vagaries of climate, acid rain, ground-level ozone, fine dust, an infestation of caterpillars -- but much to the chagrin of scientists, it can't tell us about it.
Modern technology to the rescue: the venerable old tree has been equipped with measuring devices that will provide authentic reports about its health.
Along with environmental data from a weather station mounted on the tree, sensors monitor the tree's health. One device measures how much water the oak soaks up from the soil and transports to its leaves. Another measures diameter growth of the trunk and makes it possible to draw conclusions about photosynthesis over the course of the year.
Data flows through to a research project on the effect of climate change on trees, and is available (in German) to the public not only at www.talking-tree.de but on Twitter. Special software translates the scientific data into easily understandable information about how the old oak is doing.
Read the full version of the article in German by By Silvia von der Weiden
Photo – tibchris
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