Mapping climate change in trees

Nadele Flyn

Nadele Flynn, a PhD candidate at YukonU, is researching how Boreal tree species are coping with a changing climate. In order to understand how these trees may respond to a future climate, she is exploring how tree species have responded to climate variation in the past.  

Nadele is investigating how tree species are reacting to changes in temperature, and moisture by comparing tree-ring width of trees growing in different areas throughout the territory. These areas are selected because their local climate conditions are good analogs of a potential future or past climate. This can give us insight on how these trees may grow under a range of future climate conditions. She developed an interactive map to show where in the Yukon growth-rate potential of these tree species could be sensitive to climate change. 

It all started in 2017 when she and her research students collected over 3000 core samples from trees growing in different climate conditions. She then digitized and began the analysis of the cores to evaluate how climate over the last 60 to 80 years influenced how much radial growth (i.e. diameter) the tree put on during the growing season on analog sites and how they may react to changes to come. This analysis not only provided years of useful information, it also allowed for her research students to better understand the digitizing software and allowed them to understand the relationship between tree rings and their environment. She was able to hire, and teach these skills to her research assistants via the Scholarly Activity Grant.  

She hopes to complete the project within the next two years, and accompany her formal research paper with an interactive map that would allow the public to enter climate variables into the map and find all of the regions within Yukon that represent those variables.  

Nadele is a PhD candidate based at YukonU, under the co-supervision of Dr. Andreas Hamann (UAlberta) and Dr. Fiona Schmiegelow, through our partnered UAlberta North/YukonU program.