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Estimating Tree Heights: Right Triangle Trigonometry

By Lou Gross1, Monica Beals1, Susan Harrell1

University of Tennessee Knoxville

This module introduces basic trigonometry calculations in the context of understanding tree height calculations. It is intended for an introductory biology audience.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group Quantitative Biology at Community Colleges

Version 1.0 - published on 15 Feb 2019 doi:10.25334/Q4S430 - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

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Student Introduction: Scientists studying a forest ecosystem over a long period of time may record measurements of trees for a number of variables, including each tree's diameter at breast height, height of the lowest living branch, canopy cover, etc. One aspect of a tree's growth that can be hard to measure is tree height. Forest researchers sometimes use a piece of equipment consisting of telescoping components, which are extended until the tip reaches the same height as the tree top (this requires a second researcher standing at a distance from the tree to determine when the tip is at the correct height). This method can be cumbersome, as the equipment is bulky and the measurements require two people.


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