, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 135–150 | Cite as

Colder soils in a warmer world: A snow manipulation study in a northern hardwood forest ecosystem

  • Peter M. Groffman
  • Charles T. Driscoll
  • Timothy J. Fahey
  • Janet P. Hardy
  • Ross D. Fitzhugh
  • Geraldine L. Tierney


In this special section of Biogeochemistry, we present results from asnow manipulation experiment in the northernhardwood forest ecosystem at the Hubbard BrookExperimental Forest in the White Mountains ofNew Hampshire, U.S.A. Snow is important as aninsulator of forest soils. Later developmentof snowpacks, as may occur in a warmer climate,may result in increases in soil freezing (i.e.colder soils in a warmer world) and could causechanges in fine root and microbial mortality,hydrologic and gaseous losses of nitrogen (N),and the acid-base status of drainage water. Inour study, we kept soils snow free by shovelinguntil early February during the mild winters of1997/1998 and 1998/1999. The treatment producedmild, but persistent soil freezing and inducedsurprisingly significant effects on rootmortality, soil nitrate (NO3) levelsand hydrologic fluxes of C, N and P. In thisspecial section we present four papersaddressing, (1) soil temperature and moistureresponse to our snow manipulation treatment(Hardy et al.), (2) theresponse of fine root dynamics to treatment(Tierney et al.), (3) theresponse of soil inorganic N levels, insitu N mineralization and nitrification,denitrification and microbial biomass to thetreatment (Groffman et al.)and (4) soil solution concentrations and fluxesof C, N and P (Fitzhugh et al.). In this introductory paper we: (1)review the literature on snow effects on forestbiogeochemistry, (2) introduce our manipulationexperiment and (3) summarize the resultspresented in the other papers in this issue.

climate change fine root dynamics leaching microbial biomass nitrogen cycling 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. Groffman
    • 1
  • Charles T. Driscoll
    • 2
  • Timothy J. Fahey
    • 3
  • Janet P. Hardy
    • 4
  • Ross D. Fitzhugh
    • 2
  • Geraldine L. Tierney
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Box ABMillbrookUSA (e-mail
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  3. 3.Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  4. 4.Cold Regions Research and Engineering LaboratoryU.S. ArmyHanoverUSA

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