Influence of experimental snow removal on root and canopy physiology of sugar maple trees in a northern hardwood forest

Due to projected increases in winter air temperatures in the northeastern USA over the next 100 years, the snowpack is expected to decrease in depth and duration, thereby increasing soil exposure to freezing air temperatures. To evaluate the potential physiological responses of sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) to a reduced snowpack, we measured root injury, foliar cation and carbohydrate concentrations, woody shoot carbohydrate levels, and terminal woody shoot lengths of trees in a snow manipulation experiment in New Hampshire, USA. Snow was removed from treatment plots for the first 6 weeks of winter for two consecutive years, resulting in lower soil temperatures to a depth of 50 cm for both winters compared to reference plots with an undisturbed snowpack.

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