South Central Climate Science Center, Louisiana State University
Ph.D. Student, Geography and Anthropology (Louisiana State University), M.S., Geography (Louisiana State University), B.S., Geography (Louisiana State University)
Clay is a Ph.D. student at Louisiana State University in the Department of Geography and Anthropology where he studies the environmental conditions that affect Gulf of Mexico maritime forests. His master’s research identified the occurrence of hurricanes using the dendrochronology (the study of tree rings) of pine trees in Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Mississippi. Trees lay one growth band each year and these growth bands can be affected by a multitude of environmental factors, including precipitation, temperature, disease, etc. Analyzing these tree rings can tell us about the history of environment near this tree. Hurricanes are one of these environmental factors that cause stress to trees in the form of defoliation from strong winds and lack of fresh water availability from storm surge. Coastal trees must repair the damage done by hurricanes and thus grow less in the tree trunk the following year. For his Ph.D., he hopes to analyze the combined effects of hurricanes, sea-level rise, and prescribed fires on the ability for these coastal species to adapt to climate change. Geaux Tigers!