Winter Climate Change and Soil Nutrient Retention

image of experimental litter plots under snowThis project studies the biogeochemical effects of snowcover at the HBEF in New Hampshire. In north temperate ecosystems that develop a persistent winter snowpack, such as the northern hardwood forest, subtle shifts in climate can change the timing and amount of snowcover, and hence the insulating effects of the snowpack. Delayed or reduced snowcover markedly alters the physical environment of the litter and surface soil and it is important to learn how this affects nutrient recycling processes if we are to understand climate change effects on productivity in this forest ecosystem. We are currently following up previous work showing that nitrate exports are elevated during the growing season following winters with low snow and soil freezing.

Research in my lab examines effects of snowcover on the processing and movement of leaf litter-derived organic matter from the surface, through the organic horizon, and into the B horizon soil and soil solution. We are using 13C and 15N labeled leaf litter to trace the fates of C and N and learn whether snowcover influences their transformations and fates over time and into the growing season.

Related publications:

Sorensen, P.O., P.Templer, L.M. Christenson, J. Duran, T.J. Fahey, M.C Fisk, P.M. Groffman, J.L. Morse, A.C. Finzi. 2017. Reduced snow cover alters root-microbe interactions and decreases nitrification rates in a northern hardwood forest. Ecology 97: 3359–3368.

Fuss, C.B., C.T. Driscoll, P.M. Groffman, J.L. Campbell, L.M. Christenson, T.J. Fahey, M.C. Fisk, M.J. Mitchell, P.H. Templer, J. Duran, J.L. Morse. 2017. Nitrate and dissolved organic carbon mobilization in response to soil freezing variability. Biogeochemistry 131:35-47.

Duran, J., J. Morse, P.M. Groffman, J. Campbell, L. Christenson, C. Driscoll, T.J. Fahey, M.C. Fisk, M. Mitchell, and P. Templer. 2014. Winter climate change affects growing-season soil microbial biomass and activity in northern hardwood forests. Global Change Biology 20: 3568-3577.

Groffman, P.M., L.E. Rustadt, P.H. Templer, J.L. Campbell, L.M. Christenson, N.K. Lany, A.M. Socci, M.A. Vadeboncouer, P.G. Schaberg, G.F. Wilson, C.T. Driscoll, T.J. Fahey, M.C. Fisk, C.L. Goodale, M.B. Green, S.P. Hamburg, C.E. Johnson, M.J. Mitchell, J.L. Morse, L.H. Pardo, N.L Rodenhouse. 2012. Long-term integrated studies show that climate change effects are manifest in complex and surprising ways in the northern hardwood forest. BioScience 62: 1056-1066.

Groffman, P.M., J.P. Hardy, S. Fashu-Kanu, C.T. Driscoll N.L. Cleavitt, T.J. Fahey, and M.C. Fisk. 2011. Snow depth, soil freezing and nitrogen cycling in a northern hardwood forest landscape. Biogeochemistry 102: 223-238.

Steinweg, J.M., M.C. Fisk, B. McAlexander, P.M. Groffman, and J.P. Hardy. 2008. Experimental snowpack reduction alters organic matter and net N mineralization potential of soil macroaggregates in a northern hardwood forest. Biology and Fertility of Soils 45: 1-10.

photos of soil block excavation in field