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Earlier snowmelt reduces atmospheric carbon uptake in midlatitude subalpine forests, 2016


Winchell, TS, Barnard, DM, Monson, RK, Burns, SP, Molotch, MP


AGU-Geophysical Research Letters :8160-8168
DOI: 10.1002/2016GL069769
NWT Accession Number: NWT1888

Abstract

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.

Keywords

NEE, Snowmelt, CO2 Uptake, Ablation Period, Reduced Carbon Uptake

Associated Niwot LTER Researchers:

Related Field Location(s):

C1Subalpine forest

Citation

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

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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.

Please contact lternwt@colorado.edu with questions, comments, or for technical assistance regarding this website.

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