nature's secrets

Watch: How giant sequoias, earth’s largest and longest-living trees, need fire to survive

Fire, the destroyer, can also be a creator.

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The blackened landscape seen after forest fires, whether caused by natural or man-made factors, always gives the impression of large-scale devastation.

However, in some cases, forest fires are beneficial to the ecosystem.

For instance, forest fires have helped giant sequoias – earth’s largest and longest-living trees – to survive.

Native to the western slopes of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, giant sequoias – which are one of the three species of coniferous trees known as redwoods – can stand up to 325-feet tall and live for more than 3,000 years.

The video above by PBS follows how fire provides conditions for this tree’s seeds to germinate.

The camera takes the viewer from the floor of the forest to the tree tops from where one gets an aerial view of the forest. Even if you haven’t seen the tree in real life, the video will give you an idea of its imposing size.

Because of its height, it is difficult for sunlight to reach the ground in groves of giant sequoias. However, these trees require strong sunlight to grow. It is here that fire plays a vital role – the heat allows the tree’s cones to split open and release its seeds. At the same time, the fire loosens the soil, clears it of leaves, and allows the seeds to fall on bare soil, which it requires to germinate.

The fire-resistant bark of these trees helps them survive forest fires as compared to other tree species. As the charred parts of giant sequoias are enveloped by newer layers, the rings in the trunk slowly record the history of each fire.

Scientists have been fascinated with the stories that groves of giant sequoias have to tell. But like other flora and fauna on earth, even these species, which go back some 8,000 years, are endangered in the face of rapid climate change.

The videos below are of forest ecologists Wendy Baxter and Anthony Ambrose from University of California Berkeley’s Dawson Research Lab who study how drought is affecting the ancient species.

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Wendy Baxter explains the magic of the trees as she climbs to the top to collect the samples.
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Anthony Ambrose on the stress the Giant Sequoias undergo in the face of drought.
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These GIFs show you what it means to miss breakfast

That monstrous roar is your empty stomach.

Let’s take a glance at your every day morning routine. You crawl out of bed, go for a quick shower, pull out and wear your neatly ironed clothes at the speed of light and then rush out of the house, making sure you have your keys and wallet in place.

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You walk into office, relieved because you have made it to work on time. Stifling yawns and checking emails, you wonder how your colleagues are charged up and buzzing with energy. “What is wrong with these people” you mumble to yourself.

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Slowly, you start to change. You start snapping at colleagues and start arguing with your computer. You take out your frustration on anything or anyone in sight.

To add to the aggressive behaviour, you’ve completely lost your focus. After some time, you simply forget what you were doing.

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Unable to bear the hunger pangs, you go for a mid-morning snack. It is only when a colleague asks you for a bite do you realize that you have developed into a fully formed, hunger fueled, monster. Try not to look at yourself in the mirror.

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If only you had spared not even twenty or ten but just 5 minutes in the morning and not skipped breakfast, your story would look completely different - as you will see in this video.

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The fast dip in your mood and lack of focus is because your body has missed its most important meal of the day – breakfast. Research has shown that skipping a meal, especially in the morning, worsens the mood because there is a drop in the blood sugar. This in turn affects the levels of serotonin and dopamine, the chemicals produced in the brain that control our moods and feelings. In simpler English, not having breakfast is going to make you really cranky and confused!

Morning is also when the body needs maximum nutrition to function efficiently through the day as you’ve just woken up from a full 7 hours of no food (and if you’re sleeping less than that, that’s a whole other article).

So in short, having a breakfast could make you go from looking like the earlier GIFs to this:

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But with changing lifestyles and most people hard pressed for time, a healthy breakfast is taking the backseat. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. MTR has come up with a range of widely loved Indian delicacies like Poha, Upma and Halwa which can be made in (hold you breath) just 3 minutes! All you have to do is add hot water and wait for 3 minutes to get a delicious and filling breakfast.

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These amazing and delicious breakfasts can be made in a jiffy and consumed with the least hassle, even in the midst of your frenetic morning routine. So grab your #MTRbreakfastin3 to start the day on an awesome note.

Click here to make breakfast a part of your morning routine.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of MTR and not by the Scroll editorial team.