As United Illuminating continues revisions on its ambitious tree-cutting plan, a group of scientists at UConn is studying why trees fail, and how they can be made stronger.
When a tree fails (that's scientific jargon for "falls down") and knocks out your power, you usually have two concerns: when is my power coming back? When are they going to clean this mess up?
But have you ever thought about why that tree fell?
Mark Rudnicki has. He's a scientist at UConn who studies forests. "Trees that do fail," he said, "we need more information about these trees. How did they fail? Where did they fail? What kind of tree was it? Was it surrounded by neighbors? Was it all alone? Did it have root rot? This basic information about tree failure: nobody collects it. Everyone is -- after a storm -- really focused on getting the power back up, getting this mess cleaned up. And the data is literally chewed up in chippers."
That data is important. About 80 to 90 percent of power outages during storms are caused by trees that fail. What if scientists could determine why a tree fails, and how failure could be prevented? What if they could build stronger trees? That's the mission behind Stormwise, a tree and forest management program at UConn.