Out of Thin Air
From Jean Brennan on April 22nd, 2020
Using Scent to Talk about Forest Succession and Atmospheric Science
Forests pre-logging smelled different from today's forests, and that smell is ever-changing as forest succession and climate change march on. This research uses essential oils from fragrant plant species to map forest succession in Prospect Park, Brooklyn—from old-growth to current and future scenarios.
A forest's makeup results in a unique chemical profile of volatile organic compounds that affect ozone and aerosol levels in the atmosphere. These same compounds are responsible for the scents we perceive on a walk through the woods. This project is a sensory teaching tool to talk about the delicate complexity of our forests in a warming climate and was developed in conversation with faculty at the University of Michigan Biological Station.