Shorter, warmer winters, less snow. What next? Q&A with biologist Pamela Templer    

By Dan Drollette Jr, May 4, 2020

A forest test plot, where snow was removed to see the effects of the lack of this insulating blanket. (Image courtesy of Pamela Templer.)A forest test plot, where snow was removed to see the effects of the lack of this insulating blanket. (Image courtesy of Pamela Templer.)

Biologists have traditionally labeled winter the so-called “dormant” season. But a lot is going on at this time – assuming that a good blanket of snow is there to act as an insulator. Unfortunately, decades of data collected at the nation’s experimental forests show that the winters are getting shorter and warmer, meaning that there will be less snow to protect the microfauna and microflora below. To find out what this could mean for New England’s forests, biologist Pamela Templer of Boston University and her team have been conducting experiments to see what climate change has in store for the future of the forest floor – such as more rapid freeze-and-thaw cycles, less carbon retention by the soil, less forest productivity, more damage to tree roots, and fewer of the region’s iconic sugar maples. Read this premium article here, just made free-access until July 31, 2020.

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