Finding Fog in the Cellular Anatomy of Coast Redwoods Trees

By: Triana Anderson

Department: Geosciences

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Alexander Stine

California coastal climate is changing, one concerning trend is the documented decrease in seasonal fog intensity. Accessing the significance of this climatic shift requires scrutinizing records of past fog variability, however an extensive instrumental record of fog does not exist. We are reconstructing a centuries long record of California coastal fog variability by analyzing the cellular anatomy of Coast Redwood trees. Our high resolution imaging system and original image processing methods have allowed us to measure cellular parameters including cell wall thickness and lumen area that we use to reconstruct a record of not just yearly but seasonal fog fluctuations dating back to the early 19th century. This record will contextualize the current trend of decreasing coastal fog and provide insight into oceanographic responses to a warming climate and shifting thermal gradients.