Professor scores fellowship of the rings 


Former Charles Darwin University researcher Professor David Bowman has been awarded a US fellowship to study tree ring growth.

Professor Bowman, who was nominated for Australian of the Year in 2006, is studying dendrochronology – the dating of climatic changes through the study of tree rings.

The well-known ecologist, who lived in the Territory for 22 years before recently taking up a position at the University of Tasmania, says increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of global warming is making trees grow faster.

Professor Bowman believes that Tasmania’s ancient trees hold the secrets of climate and environmental change and has won a US fellowship that will teach him how to unlock the code of tree rings.

The professor of forest ecology left for The University of Arizona, Tucson in early May where he will learn the latest techniques of dendrochronology.

Professor Bowman explained the underlying benefits of studying tree ring growth.

‘Trees are much older than instrumental records of climate. The Huon and King Billy pines are classic examples,’ he said.

‘Because they are so slow-growing they have an invaluable historical context.’

Rapidly escalating amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means trees in many areas are presently growing fast, as Professor Bowman saw in his many years in the Northern Territory.