Temple Lee Co-authors Paper Using Tree Rings to Evaluate Mercury Trends

April 2020

ARL’s Temple Lee is among the authors of “Mercury accumulation in tree rings: Observed trends in quantity and isotopic composition in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.” Published earlier this year in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, the paper represents the first known use of mercury isotopic analysis in a dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) study. The authors used tree-ring data to evaluate mercury trends in Shenandoah National Park. Rather than following trends in global atmospheric mercury, the trends were attributed to a local point source; highlighting the importance of local point sources to the interpretation of long-term mercury trends. In addition, the study proved that tree rings can help scientists interpret long-term trends in atmospheric mercury – an important environmental pollutant.

This fascinating work was recently featured as an Eos Editors’ Highlight titled “Trees Are Watching Us and Our Actions” which can be found at https://eos.org/editor-highlights/trees-are-watching-us-and-our-actions.

Close-up view of a section of tree rings
Concentric rings of various widths mark the annual growth of trees. Photo by Peter Brown, Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research reused from NOAA’s climate.gov.