Louise Fuchs from France is spending 5 months in the U.S. as an intern at the Museum of Northern Arizona. This is what she had to tell us about the fascinating work she’s doing there.
It has been 3 weeks since I arrived in Arizona. My first weekend immediatley drew me into the Great West (I went climbing in Utah), the following days were a bit more calm. I got used to the jetlag and don't have big bags under my eyes anymore. I have been working quite a lot at the lab and out in the field for my internship.
My internship subject is about dendrochronology/dendroclimatology, which are long words to say that I study tree rings. Dendrochronology has actually been discovered in Arizona, so it is pretty cool that I get to work on it here.
My project is to define whether spring water flows affect the growth of the trees. For that I have to core some pines (Ponderosa pines) as in the photo above, and then study the rings' width variations through time. The rings would be wider if there is more humidity, hence maybe a wet spring, and thinner when there is less humidity. This way we could know if the water flows are perennial (that flows throughout the year) or not.
The challenge I face will be analyzing the results, to know whether the humidity is caused by seasonal spring conditions or by precipitation patterns will be difficult.
However, I am still at the collecting stage (which means a lot of field work), then I will spend quite a time at the laboratory to analyse the cores, and then I will have to discuss the results. So I have time before getting to that step. For now I just enjoy the smell of wood every day!