Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chernobyl's legacy recorded in trees

From:  BBC News 

Scots pine logs in Chernobyl exclusion zone (Image courtesy of Tim Mousseau)
The change in wood colour in these Scots pine logs
indicates the year of the accident

Exposure to radiation from the 1986 Chernobyl accident had a lasting negative legacy on the area's trees, a study has suggested.

Researchers said the worst effects were recorded in the "first few years" but surviving trees were left vulnerable to environmental stress, such as drought.

They added that young trees appeared to be particularly affected.

Writing in the journal Trees, the team said it was the first study to look at the impact at a landscape scale.

"Our field results were consistent with previous findings that were based on much smaller sample sizes," explained co-author Tim Mousseau from the University of South Carolina, US.

"They are also consistent with the many reports of genetic impacts to these trees," he told BBC News.

"Many of the trees show highly abnormal growth forms reflecting the effects of mutations and cell death resulting from radiation exposure.

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