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Old WV Trees Helping Study Climate Change Study

Some of West Virginia's oldest trees are helping scientists collect new data on climate change.

West Virginia University geography professor Amy Hessl is studying eastern red cedars on limestone cliffs above the South Branch of the Potomac River in Pendleton County.

Using tree rings, she determines their age and collects clues about climate change.

The samples have allowed Hessl and colleagues to create a record dating to the year 500.

She tells West Virginia Public Broadcasting those records can help show how climate in the Eastern U.S. has changed over time.

Though eastern red cedars appear scrawny and jagged, Hessl says they command respect.

She says conventional wisdom suggests widespread clear-cutting more than a century ago left West Virginia with very few old trees. The cedars challenge that theory.

©2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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