I meet Tom Swetnam, Director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in Tucson, on a Sunday morning because he’s leaving for Siberia in a few days and is otherwise totally booked. As part of the paleofire team that will be traveling to the “Alaska of Siberia, if you will” to study fire and climate, Swetnam will spend a few weeks immersed in the burn history—and possible future—of some of the largest forests on earth.
“We’re trying to understand fire, climate change and carbon emissions out of Siberia because of the huge carbon pool contained there in the soil, permafrost, bogs and forests,” says Swetnam, a sturdy middle-aged man with an outdoorsy white beard. “This giant pool of carbon is beginning to burn in a massive way—the amount of area burning in Siberia is startling.”
Read the rest of the story at Grist: http://grist.org/article/the-secret-life-of-tree-rings-what-they-can-teach-us-about-drought-climate-and-fire/