Dendrochronologists collected wood samples in Norway

22. 8. 2022
What is the impact of climate change on the amount of driftwood on the Arctic coast? This is what the current research, in which scientists from the Mendel University in Brno are participating, aims to understand. At the beginning of August, they took samples from driftwood in the north of Norway, three years ago they did the same in Iceland. Now they will determine individual types of wood, find out its age and the location from which the wood arrived.

For similar research, scientists usually take samples of driftwood in Iceland, Svalbard or Greenland, but the north of Norway has been quite overlooked in this regard. “There are not as many tribes on the beaches as in other areas. In addition, some beaches are quite difficult to access. You can’t get to the place by car, so you have to go by boat or walk, which is quite difficult with all the equipment we need,” said Tomáš Kolář, a dendrochronologist from the MENDELU Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology, adding that there is information about the origin of driftwood in Norway only one publication, but it is over 20 years old and thus many questions remain.

As they did three years ago in Iceland, scientists will determine the type of wood, its age and location. “Of course, we will also be interested in where the wood came from and by what route. It could be wood not only from the east, but also from the west of Russia, theoretically also from Norway. We will also be interested in how much wood has arrived in recent decades. According to the observations of people who live there or go to the cottage there, wood has been decreasing a lot in recent years, which has also been shown to us in Iceland,” said Kolář.

According to him, a key role is played not only by the method of harvesting and transporting timber in Siberia, which was the main source area for timber in Iceland, but also the amount of Arctic ice necessary for the timber to travel thousands of kilometers. “This is currently interesting also with regard to climate change, because shrinking arctic ice very likely leads to less floating wood,” said Kolář.

Together with colleagues in the north of Norway, he took samples from more than 400 strains from 8 different locations along the northern coast. “Since we found some freshly washed logs, and we even know the exact month and year for one, we can also pinpoint the time the wood drifted across the ocean. According to earlier studies and calculations, it is stated that the minimum period is two to three years,” said Kolář.

Norwegians use washed-up logs to make furniture, as construction wood or even for art, but most often as fuel. “In the north of Norway, whoever takes the tribe first or at least somehow marks it belongs to it, which of course applies to the coast, which is owned by the state and is not a protected area,” Kolář added.

Contact for more information: Ing. Tomáš Kolář, Ph.D., phone: 721 208 883,, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology, Mendel University in Brno.

The research was financed from the Fund for Bilateral Relations – EEA Funds. There were 5 scientists from MENDELU in Norway who work together with Norwegian colleague Paul Eric Aspholm (NIBIO – Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research)

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