Winchell, TS, Barnard, DM, Monson, RK, Burns, SP, Molotch, MP
AGU-Geophysical Research Letters
NWT Accession Number: NWT1888
Previous work demonstrates conflicting evidence regarding the influence of snowmelt timing
on forest net ecosystem exchange (NEE). Based on 15 years of eddy covariance measurements in Colorado,
years with earlier snowmelt exhibited less net carbon uptake during the snow ablation period, which is a
period of high potential for productivity. Earlier snowmelt aligned with colder periods of the seasonal air
temperature cycle relative to later snowmelt. We found that the colder ablation-period air temperatures
during these early snowmelt years lead to reduced rates of daily NEE. Hence, earlier snowmelt associated with
climate warming, counterintuitively, leads to colder atmospheric temperatures during the snow ablation
period and concomitantly reduced rates of net carbon uptake. Using a multilinear-regression (R2 = 0.79,
P<0.001) relating snow ablation period mean air temperature and peak snow water equivalent (SWE) to
ablation-period NEE, we predict that earlier snowmelt and decreased SWE may cause a 45% reduction in
midcentury ablation-period net carbon uptake.
NEE, Snowmelt, CO2 Uptake, Ablation Period, Reduced Carbon Uptake
Winchell, TS, Barnard, DM, Monson, RK, Burns, SP, Molotch, MP, (2016) Earlier snowmelt reduces atmospheric carbon uptake in midlatitude subalpine forests. AGU-Geophysical Research Letters :8160-8168 , DOI: 10.1002/2016GL069769
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #DEB-1637686. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necesarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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