Dendrochronologists collect wood samples in Norway

5. 9. 2022

Current research involving scientists from Mendel University in Brno aims to help understand the impact of climate change on the amount of driftwood on the Arctic coast. At the beginning of August, samples were taken from driftwood in the north of Norway, three years ago the same was done in Iceland. Now they will determine individual types of wood, and establish both the age and origin of the wood.

For similar research, scientists usually collect 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 logs on the beaches as in other areas. In addition, some beaches are quite difficult to reach. 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 at the MENDELU Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology, adding that information about the origin of driftwood in Norway can be found in only one publication, but this is over 20 years old and thus leaves many questions unanswered.

As was the case three years ago in Iceland, scientists will determine the age and type of wood, and record its location. “Of course, we will also be interested in where the wood came from and by what route. It could be wood either from the east, or even 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 visit regularly, the amount of wood has been decreasing a lot in recent years, which has also been evident in Iceland,” said Kolář.

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

Together with colleagues in the north of Norway, he took samples from more than 400 logs from 8 different locations along the northern coast. “Since we found some freshly beached logs, and we even know the exact month and year for one of them, we can also precisely determine the length of time the wood drifted across the sea. According to earlier studies and calculations, it appears to be a minimum of two to three years,” said Kolář.

Norwegians use beached logs for the production of furniture, for construction, in artistic work, but mostly as fuel. “In the north of Norway, such a log belongs to the person who finds it first, or at least marks it in some way. This of course applies to the coast, which is owned by the state, and is not a protected area,” Kolář added.

Contact person for further information: Ing. Tomáš Kolář, Ph.D., phone: 721 208 883, e-mail:, Department of Wood Science and Technology, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology, Mendel University in Brno.

The research was financed from the Fund for Bilateral Relations – EEA Funds. Five scientists from MENDELU took part in the study in Norway, working with Norwegian colleague Paul Eric Aspholm (NIBIO – Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research).

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