Snowpack declines may stunt tree growth and forests’ ability to store carbon emissions

And if my aunt had…..~ctm

From Eurekalert

Public Release: 1-Dec-2018

New study findings also suggest a variety of industries in the Northeast could be negatively affected by warming trends, including maple syrup, timber and snow sports

Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

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Caption Researchers removed snowpack from various plots, such as the one seen here, to assess the potential environmental impact of reduced snowpack on northeast hardwood forests over time. Credit Pamela Templer Usage Restrictions Can be used in conjunction with the corresponding study only.

NEW YORK, December 1, 2018 – Researchers conducting a 5-year-long study examining snow cover in a northern hardwood forest region found that projected changes in climate could lead to a 95 percent reduction of deep-insulating snowpack in forest areas across the northeastern United States by the end of the 21st century. The loss of snowpack would likely result in a steep reduction of forests’ ability to store climate-changing carbon dioxide and filter pollutants from the air and water.

The new findings, out today in Global Change Biology, highlight a growing understanding of the broad impact of climate change across seasons on forest ecosystems, according to scientists who leveraged six decades of data showing declining winter snowpack at Hubbard Brook’s forest. The 7,800-acre research forest in New Hampshire is heavily populated by sugar maple and yellow birch trees, and has been used for over 60 years to study changes in northern hardwood forests–an ecosystem covering over 54 million acres and stretching from Minnesota to southeastern Canada.

“We know global warming is causing the winter snowpack to develop later and melt earlier,” said the paper’s first author Andrew Reinmann, an assistant professor and researcher with the Environmental Science Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and with Hunter College’s Department of Geography. “Our study advances our understanding of the long-term effects of this trend on northern hardwood forests–which are critical to North America’s environmental health and several industries. The experiments we conducted suggest snowpack declines result in more severe soil freezing that damages and kills tree roots, increases losses of nutrients from the forest and significantly reduces growth of the iconic sugar maple trees.”

The researchers’ 5-year-long experiment consisted of removing snowpack from designated plots during the first 4-6 weeks of winter each year between 2008 and 2012, and then comparing the resulting condition of the soil and trees (all sugar maples) in those plots to the soil and trees in adjacent plots with natural snowpack. Their analysis found that soil frost depth reached over 30 centimeters in areas where snow cover had been removed compared to roughly 5 centimeters at control plots. The severe frost caused damage to tree roots that triggered a cascade of responses, including reduced nutrient uptake by trees, shorter branch growth, loss of nitrogen from soils into nearby waterways, and decreases in soil insect diversity and abundance. Scientists collected sample cores from sugar maple trees on their research plots and measured the width of the cores’ rings to reconstruct growth rates. They found that growth declined by more than 40 percent in response to snow removal and increased soil freezing. The trees also were unable to rebound even after snowpack removal ceased.

“These experiments demonstrate the significant impact that changes in winter climate have on a variety of environmental factors, including forest growth, carbon sequestration, soil nutrients and air and water quality,” Reinmann said. “Left unabated, these changes in climate could have a detrimental impact on the forests of the region and the livelihoods of the people who rely on them for recreation and industries such as tourism, skiing, snowmobiling, timber and maple syrup production.”

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106 thoughts on “Snowpack declines may stunt tree growth and forests’ ability to store carbon emissions

    • Actually, snow depth has increased considerably in the last ten years in the US Northeast.

      Didn’t you Osties just experience the coldest Thanksgiving in over 100 years?

      In any case, I’ve solved your “problem” of inadequate snow, as follows:

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/11/17/will-the-snowiest-decade-continue/#comment-2521702

      Fair warning: I’m calling down another very hard winter on the US Northeast, extending up into Canada.

      The reason I’m doing this is that you deserve it. You continue to bleat about global warming, in a world that is about to get colder.

      You continue to blather on about climate change and the need to eliminate fossil fuels – do that tomorrow and most of you will be dead within a month or two.

      Fully 85% of global primary energy is fossil fuels and that number has not changed significantly in decades. Fossil fuel energy provides almost everything you need to survive in this complex world. It IS that simple!

      So enjoy the bitter cold and snow this winter, good people, and maybe you will actually learn something.

      Cold kills far more people then heat in the world today, probably about 2 million excess winter deaths per year.

      Bundle up!

      Post Script:

      You see? It’s working!
      Cue Twilight Zone music…

      https://weather.com/maps/ustemperaturemap

      I suppose I have to say “sarc/off”, because the greens will believe ANYTHING. 🙂

      • Allan

        See Gasparrini et al 2015 for a close look at the premature death numbers for heat waves and almost inadvertently, cold snaps. The title mentions only heat. The ratio between cold and heat related deaths is 8:1 in Canada and 16:1 in China.

        • Thank you Crispin.

          Joe d’Aleo and I co-authored the following paper on Excess Winter Mortality in 2015. We were about to publish it when the landmark Lancet study appeared, so we incorporated that excellent paper into ours. Our title, derived from the Lancet study, is
          “COLD WEATHER KILLS 20 TIMES AS MANY PEOPLE AS HOT WEATHER”.

          There are about 100,000 Excess Winter Deaths in the USA per year, equivalent to about two-9-11’s per week for 17 weeks every year.

          Canada experiences 5000 to 10,000 Excess Winter Deaths every year, whereas Great Britain, with only about twice Canada’s population and one-fifth the population of thee USA, typically experiences 35,000 to 50,000.

          Canada and the UK have similar health care systems and similar ethnic populations, but energy is much less expensive in Canada and our homes are better adapted to Winter.

          British (and other European) politicians, through their costly, destructive green energy policies, have been killing off their elderly and their poor for decades. When politicians fool with energy systems, real people suffer and die.

          The great killer is “Heat or Eat” – fuel poverty, poorly insulated housing and lack of proper heating systems.

          Imagine if the Euro politicians (including the Brits) had focused on cheap, reliable energy, and home insulation and central heating programs – Granny Nan and Great Uncle Bill would be “down the pub” enjoying a pint, instead of pushing up daisies.

          The Greens are the great killers of our age. Just including increased malaria deaths from the 30-year ban on DDT and Excess Winter Deaths from green energy fraud, the Green death toll now rivals that of the great killers of the 20th Century – Hitler, Stalin and Mao could soon be surpassed by Rachel Carson, Tony Blair, Angela Merkel and successors.

          COLD WEATHER KILLS 20 TIMES AS MANY PEOPLE AS HOT WEATHER, September 4, 2015
          by Joseph D’Aleo and Allan MacRae
          https://friendsofsciencecalgary.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/cold-weather-kills-macrae-daleo-4sept2015-final.pdf

          • I am putting together a justification for Poland and other countries to expand access to modern combustion technology for coal-fired home heating systems. The meeting in Katowice is perfect for advertising this. They will not give coal as a fuel and they therefore should replace all their heating systems with modern designs that cost no more – they are just base on better science.

            In the course of looking at the impact of chronic heating issues, I came across that Lancet study. There is another coming soon written by the Dutch International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG) working with Fresh Air on a study presently titled:

            ““van Gemert et al, Health impact and acceptability introducing clean cookstoves and heaters to reduce exposure to household air pollution in Uganda, Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan: a FRESH AIR study, in preparation”

            It may be out in January. In it, there is a comparison between the health impact of the heating system in Kyrgyz homes without and without an advanced coal-fired heating system (meaning, old traditional coal stoves or a modern one – fuel is the same). The positive impact on people who live in a room that is heated continuously instead of episodically, and 5 C warmer, is astonishing. Impacts long-claimed to be caused by smoke from leaky stoves in low income homes is actually eradicated by warming the home and sealing the stove. Your UK numbers are testament to this effect.

            By the way, the World Bank has a standard definition of energy poverty which is when >10% of family income is spent on energy. Field research in Africa shows that when most energy is for cooking, at 25% of income people change fuels, no matter what they were using at the time. I have seen communities where 30% of income went on cooking fuel.

            It would be good to get some figures from the UK with the energy cost (total energy) and income for old members of society. I believe it is likely be much more than 10% of total income.

          • Crispin wrote:
            “It would be good to get some figures from the UK with the energy cost (total energy) and income for old members of society. I believe it is likely be much more than 10% of total income.”

            This report (or the raw data) may be of some use.

            Best, Allan

            https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/annual-fuel-poverty-statistics-report-2017

            Households with insulated cavity walls are least likely to be in fuel poverty (6.2 per cent of households with an average gap of £185), compared to households with uninsulated solid walls (18.1 per cent with an average fuel poverty gap of £482).

        • Thank you Crispin.

          Recently the car radio scanned through CBC Radio – aka Pravda Canada – before I could shut it down. I avoid the CBC’s Green Marxist propaganda.

          The CBC was bleating about a handful of heat-related deaths in Quebec – and made no mention of our order-of-magnitude greater cold-related deaths.

          Heat-related deaths are easy to prevent, and are typically a result of neglect of the elderly. Just buy Granny a cheap air conditioner – and go visit her more often.

          An earlier news story talked about a spate of heat-related deaths in a Muslim country, but neglected to mention that it was during the celebration of Ëid, when no water is consumed from sunup to sundown. Quelle surprise!

          • Allan

            If you check Gasparrini for said Muslim majority country, you will find the numbers for cold v.s. heat related mortality.

            Something important that I forgot to mention is that the cold-related deaths are not related to cold snaps, they are related to chronic underheating. Chronic overheating is not nearly as bad for the health. The figure for China is alarming (like so much these days) with more than 10% of all deaths attributed to chronic underheating.

            What that translates into is rural, elderly people in the poor 800m currently the target of accelerated upliftment, are keeling over from cold-related medical conditions. It is no different at all in the UK where 33,000 deaths p.a. among the elderly are related to energy poverty.

            These two examples show that humans are able to eat widely different diets, live in completely different habitats, but cannot survive in old age when underheated consistently, even when modern health services are available.

          • Crispin wrote:
            “Something important that I forgot to mention is that the cold-related deaths are not related to cold snaps, they are related to chronic underheating.”

            Agreed – that is also the logical conclusion of the data from the 2015 Lancet study and my own data, obtained from national mortality stats.

            I predicted this Excess Winter Death debacle several times on wattsupwiththat:

            HERE IN 2013

            AN OPEN LETTER TO BARONESS VERMA
            https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/10/31/blind-faith-in-climate-models/#comment-1130954

            AND HERE IN 2015
            https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/11/20/terrorism-and-a-cold-winter-refugee-crisis/#comment-1649569

            Excerpt:

            “Contrary to popular belief, Earth is colder-than-optimum for human survival. A warmer world, such as was experienced during the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period, is expected to lower winter deaths and a colder world like the Little Ice Age will increase winter mortality, absent adaptive measures. These conclusions have been known for many decades, based on national mortality statistics.
            ,,,
            In Europe, where green energy schemes have been widely implemented, the result is higher energy costs that are unaffordable for the elderly and the poor, and increased winter deaths. European politicians are retreating from highly-subsidized green energy schemes and returning to fossil fuels. When misinformed politicians fool with energy systems, innocent people suffer and die.”

          • Allan,

            Ramadan is the month of fasting where nothing is eaten or drank from sun up to sun down not Eid as that is when the daytime fast is ended.

          • Gus:

            Eid starts at sunset and during that same “day” as fasting continues. Some in the West may interpret Eid as the last day of fasting and eating after sunset, others may think it means the follow day (which starts the sunset before).

            I think the original point was well taken. During fasting periods (not only for Muslims) concentration drops, blood sugar levels are low, dehydration is an issue and accidents more likely. This has been observed in “fasting” as brief as between lunch and supper during the commute home from work. It is a real thing.

    • You see it is not snow anymore. Because warming it looks the same but now it’s called “wow” and it’s all caused by man’s activities, of course.

    • Salute!

      What is it they do not understand about the favorable growing range of various trees and wildflowers?

      If the range changes, the plants migrate. I have watched this in Colorado since the mid ’60’s.
      If we see a few years of poor conditions, we see die back or even die off.

      I have tree rings that span the 1930’s to 2003 or so and you can clearly see the large rings and skinny ones depending on snowfall and summer showers, not temperature. Virtually zero correlation with temperature.

      My wildflowers show the impact of dry winters thathad little snow cover, and I bet they would migrate or wither away if we had had year after year of poor conditions for those particular plants. So what’s new?

      Gums sends…

  1. Another time series trend that predicts nothing. Hey, if they get climate time series to predict something, stop screwing around and use linear least squares to predict commodity futures with time. Give that a go. Oh right, doesn’t work. Why? Time and commodity prices are not related, so a regression line has no meaning. Same for time series of climate. When time makes climate, the trends will have meaning, but not until then.

    • I agree, Donald Casper. The Eurekalert article begins, “Researchers conducting a 5-year-long study examining snow cover in a northern hardwood forest region found that projected changes in climate could lead…”

      That’s as far as one has to read, because the projected changes could also NOT lead to whatever they’re trying to sell us.

      Cheers,
      Bob

  2. Perhaps it’s time for your US ‘futurologists’ to get a different career.

    For all the maths they crunch and they models they construct, they have no more success than crystal ball gazers..

    • Assuming that crystal ball gazing is worthless and predictions based on it have a random chance of being correct, it would far outshine the record of so-called climate scientists predicting CAGW.
      They have not been correct about one single thing yet.
      And that aint easy.

  3. Just a thought, but if snow pack levels affect tree growth, doesn’t this cast doubt on the ability of tree rings to be an accurate proxy for temperature since snow pack can vary even without a change in temperature (say drier periods of time that are no warmer)?

    • My thoughts exactly. Is it possible that a warming forest with reduced snow pack could produce tree rings that are interpreted as cooling? Reduced snow pack would change the timing of melt water release into the soil as well a freeze depth which can harm the roots. Any tree ring experts out there that want to add?

      • Tree rings are a lousy proxy for temperature, unless they are located where temperature is the limiting factor, like the edge of tundra. In deserts/dry forests, rings may show moisture but in most forest situations, tree rings merely display the condition of CROWDING. We see a 10X difference in rings based on the relative stocking (crowded/well spaced) of a forest.

          • No. It’s available water (governed by spacing / rainfall), and soil quality. More rain will allow for denser spacing and equal growth to trees with wider spacing and less rain. This is the exact reason for so many beetle killed trees. The growth is too dense, the trees are starved for water and cannot produce enough sap to drown the beetles.

          • McComber Boy,

            Does that mean a well managed forest (properly thinned) will be more resilient against beetle kills?

            When examining tree rings, how does one distinguish between effects of available water/soil quality, spacing, temperature, and available sunlight on annual growth rate? Or can you??

          • You can tell, if you follow the simple roolz: First, get a degree in anything that is not climatology or atmospheric physics, preferably something having nothing to do with an actual scientific discipline.
            Then…well, then just make up any horsesh!t you want, as long as it is bad, our fault, and contains the words climate change.

        • But how do you know whether temperature was a limiting factor just from looking at the rings? Doesn’t there have to be an assumption that, if temperature is a limiting factor for a tree in recent ages (which you could test for by comparing to actual measurements), it was a limiting factor over it’s entire life?

    • Salute!

      Re: Previous post…… moisture was the more dominant independent variable in the regression equation of my own tree rings. We had negligible sunlight delta since 1968. I must also add that the side of the tree WRT sun seemed to influence the width of the rings. Sarc on/ obviously we need more studies ($$$$$$). Please send $$$ to me at ,,,,,,,,,

      Gums sends…

  4. The researchers’ 5-year-long experiment consisted of removing snowpack from designated plots during the first 4-6 weeks of winter each year between 2008 and 2012, and then comparing the resulting condition of the soil and trees

    OMFG they have GOT to be kidding!

    Of course there was more damage to tree roots and so on. They removed the snow pack when it was cold enough to support a snow pack. Had there been no snow pack due to to natural warming IT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN COLD ENOUGH TO DAMAGE THE ROOTS AND SO ON IN THE FIRST PLACE

    This study is so stupid it defies ridicule.

      • It’s worse than that it is “projected changes in climate” on a diabolical sample set. When I was at uni that would have got you an “F” and a write up for all the wrong reasons.

    • Snow makes great insulation and the snowpack is what keeps the cold from penetrating deep into the ground, provided that it is cold!

      They start out by noting that winter is arriving later and to so simulate that, they remove the insulation from the ground, which simulates a lack of snow, not winter arriving later. By analogy:

      A group of researchers from U of Cantbelievehowdumbweare simulated winter arriving later by removing the insulation from hundreds of homes in the first 4 – 6 weeks of winter for five years. Incredibly, the heating bills in those houses went up, proving conclusively that warming temperatures and later winters will cause home owners to consume more heating fuel.

      Wow. Turns out it can be ridiculed after all.

      • They even admitted in their own write up that snow is an insulator. So they removed the insulation, kept the temperatures the same, and asserted that their results represented warmer temperatures! OMFG!

        I don’t want to know how this passed peer review. I want to know how the journal gets to keep on publishing.

        • Precisely. They rigged the study to get the scary results. It happens a lot. The “studies” determining the number of deaths due to heat waves from CO2 warming without examining the lives saved from heat waves by using fossil fuels for air conditioning. The “studies” trying to validate models that change the model projections after the data come in. The conclusions a research paper makes depends entirely on the assumptions that made in determining those conclisions, so a careful selection of assumptions can get you to wherever you want to drive.

    • You got that right.

      Also: ” Researchers conducting a 5-year-long study examining snow cover in a northern hardwood forest region found that projected changes in climate could lead to a 95 percent reduction of deep-insulating snowpack”

      I didn’t see that these researchers studied anything that would lead to the conclusion that snow pack would be reduced 95% due to future changes in the climate. What they researched was the degree of damage to trees resulting from removing snow pack during the first third of winters in our current climate.

      SR

      SR

    • In the approximately one hour since this story was posted, several of us have noticed the same thing. That means it’s kinda obvious to normally literate folks.

      On the face of it, the researchers appear to have been grindingly stupid or out of touch. That would apply equally to the peer reviewers. So, we have yet another reason why most published research findings are false. That would be the inability to apply commonly held real world knowledge as a filter to one’s findings.

      I am reminded of an adage once offered by a tabloid journalist: “Never fact check yourself out of a good story.” Given the pressures and perverse incentives facing researchers, it’s not surprising that science has descended to the level of tabloid journalism.

      A quick google of perverse research incentives publish will show that the problem is widely acknowledged. There’s no sign it’s going away any time soon.
      /rant

      • What is worse than the researchers initially thinking this was a valid research project, is that they seem to have never realized their error during the 5 years they worked on it, and no one ever set them straight.

        One can only conclude that if they were smart enough to be in a position to conduct this research, they had to have known the study was bogus.

        SR

        • But Steve, if they discovered and reported their error, they might have had to give up the research grant and find something more productive to do than hanging out in a forest watching trees grow or not grow. And if they are of the right demographic, they would not have been able to handle the hit to their self esteem. Besides, if orange can be the new black, cold can be the new hot, or something.

      • “We know global warming is causing the winter snowpack to develop later and melt earlier,”

        Do they have evidence of this, or do they just ‘know’ it? Like how all the Greens ‘know’ that CAGW causes more ‘Extreme Weather’.

        ~¿~

      • “On the face of it, the researchers appear to have been grindingly stupid or out of touch. That would apply equally to the peer reviewers. So, we have yet another reason why most published research findings are false. That would be the inability to apply commonly held real world knowledge as a filter to one’s findings. ”

        I think you’re drawing the wrong conclusion. I find it inconceivable that neither the researchers nor the reviewers knew of the flaw that all of us can readily see in this paper. They just didn’t care. Their objective is to sway public opinion on “climate change” and to make money in the process via research grants ( I don’t know what order these two things go in since they’re so interrelated). It’s the conclusion that matters – rigging the methodology from their perspective to get the “correct” and “rewarding” conclusion is a feature rather than a bug and, from their perspective, as long as they are upfront in their paper about the methodology used, nobody can accuse them of academic misconduct. They get their research money, the people or organizations that paid the research money get the conclusions they want, the journalists get the conclusions that fit their uninformed preconceptions, and the politicians get their wedge issue.

        The only losers are the truth and the public at large that ultimately has to suffer from this nonsense.

    • Quite so. Another blatant flaw is, that by removing the snowpack, these “scientists” also deprived the trees of water.

      How did this POS ever get published?

    • That is not the only flaw, shovelling away the snow would have removed leaf litter as well, further reducing insulation and removing nutrients.

    • Exactly. The proper experiment would have been to raise the temperature to the point where no snow pack formed. Trees and animals would love for winter to warm enough that they didn’t need to hibernate, but could continue to theive and grow all year round.

    • davidmhoffer December 3, 2018 at 11:00 pm

      ” consisted of removing snowpack from designated plots during the first 4-6 weeks of winter”
      David read it again think. Ah,, and just how did they remove the snow???? With a kitchen broom????
      Space heaters??
      “The 7,800-acre research forest in New Hampshire is heavily populated by sugar maple and yellow birch trees,”
      7,800 acres, again what did they use to clear the snow. And they may have repeated the process. 3-6 weeks, how many times did they have to repeat the removal? And finally did they use snow blowers, vacuums and collectors. Running the equipment over the roots systems possibly damaged them.

      It would be good to get Dr Steele’s input on this.

      michael

    • davidmhoffer,

      The future snowpack estimates are for midwinter, based on climate models.

      “Snow depth projections for the region were obtained with the variable infiltration capacity (VIC) hydrologic model for the period 1950–2099 (Demaria et al., 2016). VIC was forced with precipitation and temperature projections from ten general circulation models (GCMs) from the World Climate Research Project (WCRP) CMIP5 (Supporting Information Table S1)”

      The models are based on the historical conditions that produce reduced snowpack in midwinter. Assuming the models are correct, I think the idea is that temperature will extend the growing period later, but midwinter snowpack will still be thinner. (They leave some snow on the ground to account for increased albedo.) They did their removal in early winter to simulate a future mid-winter reduction in snowpack. They do discuss the increase in growth due to growing season length, suggesting this could offset it.

      I’m not suggesting the study is without its problems (the confidence in their models, for instance), but I am suggesting they likely thought of the obvious, and accounted for it to some extent.

      I still think it’s not a very convincing bit of research…but it’s a hard thing to attempt in a predictive way. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 3.

  5. reduction of forests’ ability to store climate-changing carbon dioxide and filter pollutants from the air and water.

    Good Grief.
    I’d ask this man, if he was alive: Eugene Odum (Southern River Swamp fame).
    Some of his students might have a few thoughts.

  6. This “research” is just another massive waste of tax-payers’ money. Still, there are thousands of other “climate change” related “research” activities wasting gazillions of tax-payers’ money, so what the hell.

  7. I wonder if a study should be done about the increased growth rate of trees in the temperate zones due to the increase of CO2 levels and the capacity to store extra carbon emissions there? But I guess that would be all too positive and would go against the narrative.

  8. My thinking is that anyone thinking plant growth is a proxy for temperature has not actually grown plants outdoors.

    My experience trying to grow plants has been that heat only limits plant growth when water is limited. Thus water availability is the limiting factor, not heat. I also noted dry air (low humidity) is as bad for plant growth as dry soil.

    Speaking of humidity, my experience has been that higher humidity constrains high air temperatures. That is, dry weather precedes hot weather in summer. Above average temperatures follow below average moisture.

    Thus anyone thinking narrow tree rings indicate higher temps is getting the cart before the horse. Less moisture is the real cause of less plant growth.

    SR

    • Steve Reddish,

      I’ve seen plants wilt when the ground was plenty moist. Photosynthetic rate starts to decline in many crops when it gets above 90 F. Wind and low humidity make it worse. Plants can’t draw water up through their roots quickly enough to replace what’s lost. Once they close their stomata completely, it doesn’t matter how high the CO2 is.

  9. “projected changes in climate could lead …”, another claim based on another claim … this is getting like Chinese whispers.

    “Based on projected changes in climate change when the aliens arrive it will be worse … ” is this really where the field has arrived.

  10. If the snow is getting less because it’s getting warmer, then how can removal of snow when it is still cold enough for snow to remain be a representative test? When there’s no snow in this fabled future, it will be warmer, you idiots!

    There is no logic to this experiment!

    • Zig Zag Wanderer

      That did strike me as a tad bizarre. “Oh look, it’s snowing at the normal time of year, lets remove some snow, run a study and explain how late snow affects the planet.”

      No, they can’t possibly be as dumb as me, I must be missing something.

      • As I said above, they are not dumb, they are dishonest.

        They are hoping to con the dumb, helped by dishonest journalists who will summarise the paper in a manner that hides its flaws.

      • HotScot,

        Yes, you are missing something. Their estimates are based on modeled likelihood of mid-winter snowpack, although the manipulations are done in early winter. The assumption is that winters will get shorter AND that when winter starts, snowpack will be less.

        It’s still not a great piece of research, but it helps to read the paper.
        Press releases rarely describe the research well.

  11. Yet again we see the use of words such as “May”

    What about some facts, and not a study based on a prediction that its still getting. warmer.

    As there is no evidence that it is indeed getting warmer, then the whole exercise is just another waste of the taxpayers money.

    But of course I don’t think that the researchers did it for nothing, so its a nice source of income.

    MJE

  12. There is an obvious solution to this problem.
    Put a bunch of space heaters in the woods. These will keep the trees warm.
    Simples!

    • Oil fired space heaters. While it would be a much better designed experiment than the claptrap highlighted in the OP. But I love the irony of it… the world is getting warmer because of profligate consumption of fossil fuels. So to study those effects we have to burn a whole bunch more fossil fuels. But if this whole self-licking ice cream cone had any logical component it would have been seen for what it is and shut down years ago!

  13. “We know global warming is causing the winter snowpack to develop later and melt earlier,”

    No it isn’t, and you have no way of predicting that for 70-80 years into the future. Last year and this year so far is proof of that, at least in the study area of New England.

    So they shovel the snow off the plot, and compact the soil with their feet while doing so, driving the frost even deeper into the ground, causing more damage to the tree roots. It wasn’t a natural event the way they did the experiment, and affected the results of the experiment. Quantum forestry…maybe it’s really a joke this experiment. What were these kids and their assistant Prof smoking? God save us from all the fake science that is bombarding us.

    • Earthling2,

      Are you sure the snowpack isn’t developing later on average for that region? I don’t know one way or the other.

      The soil doesn’t compact once it’s frozen. They intentionally compact the first layer of snow – they want a thin layer for the albedo. How are they driving the frost deeper into the ground?

      No, of course it’s not natural. A controlled experiment isn’t natural.

      I’m not defending the study.

    • Rutgers Snow Lab – interesting web site. Poking around in the ‘Snow Extent’ graphs, yes, the northern hemisphere winter coverage is gradually increasing, but what struck me is that the fall coverage is increasing with time yet the spring coverage is decreasing with time…and this is over a 50 year period.

      However, one must be careful – the vertical scale to show areal coverage is different for each graph so the ‘rate of change’ is not the same even though the line may have the same ‘slope’…but the trends are still there.

      I wonder why?

    • rah,

      Well, that’s some nice cherry-picked data, a graph with a slope line but no correlation coefficient, and an argument that precipitation events are getting more extreme, anyway.

    • Tasfay,

      I don’t see where it says, “White Mountains, NH.” Maybe they misread the NH for “Northern Hemisphere”? /sarc

  14. May, might, could, possibly, in time. Good grief. WHen are goverenments going to stop paying people to produce this nonsense?

  15. what a joke, a 5 yr study where MAN removed the snow pack and studied the results of them removing the snow pack .. the earths climate has been changing since the beginning of time why do climate change believers deny this scientific FACT? Do they think the First Ice age was a result of Neanderthal man heating his cave with coal ,driving gas guzzling SUVs and dinosaur Farts? what caused the Ice Sheets during the Ice Age, in some places 2 miles thick, to melt, climate change is real MAN MADE IS BULL SHIT

  16. So many studies like this, assume the extreme future temperature and rain-snow models models are correct, then look at what may happen then. Of course in this case they also added in really bad experimental design.

    I can do this at work, if my furnace had 20% more power my stuff would get hotter and perhaps the heating elements melt. Useful to study if I am planning on upgrading my power supply but useless otherwise.

  17. “The experiments we conducted suggest snowpack declines result in more severe soil freezing that damages and kills tree roots, increases losses of nutrients from the forest and significantly reduces growth of the iconic sugar maple trees.”

    The experiment is conceptually flawed at its root. They claim to be simulating the effect of increased temperatures on the forest. Instead of increasing the temperature with a resulting drop in snow cover, they have removed the snow and exposed the ground

    This has two effects: it exposes the ground to the same cold temperatures they claim are going to rise and it removes the the moisture.

    Proof that the error in logic is real is that the exposed ground froze deeper than before. That is a simulation of drought, not a higher winter average temperature.

    Did the researchers put the water back when spring came, water than would have percolated into the ground had it been warmer? If not, they have again simulated a drought, even if they somehow managed to warm the ground to the anticipated temperature, the effects of which they claim to have studied.

    • Exactly so. Reminds me of the joke about a researcher who concluded that the frog whose four limbs had been amputated and would no longer respond to the verbal command to “jump” had become deaf as a result.

      The experiment is conceptually flawed at its root.

      Nice one.

  18. It was a very poor study, the main impact was due to taking away the insulation of the snow on top when it was actually cold. If you had a warmer climate then that would cause less impact on the soil. Totally meaningless science for which they expended a large amount of effort, shovelling snow is harder work than some of the other things they often shovel…

  19. These “researchers”, in comical fashion have committed blunder after blunder, beginning with their statement that “We know global warming is causing the winter snowpack to develop later and melt earlier”. Now, the question is, later and earlier than when? My guess is that they were comparing now to a cooler period we had in the 50’s thru 70’s (roughly), a time when CO2 emissions had seriously ramped up (which should be their first clue, but they want to remain clueless). So yes, after that cooler period, there were several decades of slight warming (eek), during which, sure, as one would expect, snow cover would tend to start later and end earlier, due to there being rain or mixed precip. instead of all snow, due to it (ahem) being WARMER. But what these knuckleheads have missed is that once the cold weather does finally settle in, one does in fact (usually) get snow instead of rain. Because it is, err, COLDER. They then conveniently ignore the fact that the warming slowed to a crawl, or even stopped entirely. Meanwhile, there have been no, as in NONE, negative effects on anything noticed. Maple trees are doing fine, and sap production varies year-to-year just as it always has, depending on a variety of factors. Snow sports are going like gangbusters, with the usual caterwauling and gnashing of teeth if there’s an off year. This year, ski areas have gotten off to a flying start, due to both colder and wetter than normal conditions. Indeed, it is looking like a period of cooling has already begun. But the Climate Liars, ever the inventive ones will claim cooling as “Climate Change” (caused by man, of course).

  20. “projected changes in climate could lead to a 95 percent REDUCTION of deep-insulating snowpack in forest areas across the northeastern United States by the end of the 21st century. ”

    This means there is only 5% left, almost no snow at all. You certainly have our attention now.

    “We know global WARMING is causing the winter snowpack to develop later and melt earlier,”

    “The experiments we conducted suggest snowpack declines result in more severe soil FREEZING ?? that damages and kills tree roots, increases losses of nutrients from the forest and significantly reduces growth of the iconic sugar maple trees.”

    Its warming outside. OK. Snowpack is gone, no snow mobiles and cross country skiing. The DEEP FREEZING without snowpack means there is a drought then, right ?

    Lots of degrees of freedom not explained or put into context.

  21. “Researchers conducting a 5-year-long study examining snow cover in a northern hardwood forest region”

    Just great. Dingbats regularly disturbing and tromping all over a twenty foot by twenty foot plot in the woods.

    Looks like they scraped the leaves off of the snow and evenly spread them back on the soil…

    “We know global warming is causing the winter snowpack to develop later and melt earlier,” said the paper’s first author Andrew Reinmann, an assistant professor”

    Ah yes, start off the research, basing the research on biases and gross assumptions.

    “The experiments we conducted suggest snowpack declines result in more severe soil freezing that damages and kills tree roots, increases losses of nutrients from the forest and significantly reduces growth of the iconic sugar maple trees.”

    Lovely word, “suggests” that originates from biases and assumptions towards preferred results, not proven replicable definitive observations.

    Ignored are errors introduced by:
    A) Miniscule 20 foot by 20 foot plots.
    B) Artificially removing snowpack, instead of measuring soils during years without snowpack.
    C) Students and researchers disturbing the soils they are allegedly sampling for minute chemical and biological differences.
    D) Research that artificially provides a sunken spot where colder air pools.

    “then comparing the resulting condition of the soil and trees (all sugar maples) in those plots to the soil and trees in adjacent plots with natural snowpack.”

    “The severe frost caused damage to tree roots that triggered a cascade of responses, including reduced nutrient uptake by trees, shorter branch growth, loss of nitrogen from soils into nearby waterways, and decreases in soil insect diversity and abundance. Scientists collected sample cores from sugar maple trees on their research plots and measured the width of the cores’ rings to reconstruct growth rates.”

    N.B. the reference to “natural snowpack”, after the unnaturally remove snowpack from their abused forest plots.

    And exactly which sampled trees were 100% dependent upon the soil in those 20 foot by 20 foot forest plots?

    Mature tree have root systems roughly equivalent to their forest canopy. These alleged researchers assume that their chosen forest plots are the sole sources for which their trees draw resources.

    Of course, after these dingalings dug up all of the snow, repeatedly, they assume that wildlife isn’t bright enough to find better winter quarters just a feet away.

    A nice grade school research project and confirmation bias assumptions. Maybe.

  22. Not impressed or convinced, obviously. Even if what they report is both accurate (which I doubt) and representative (in the sense of it not just being a local effect), what I don’t see is any kind of an appropriate control.

    Thus they claim that less snow in the forest is harmful somehow, but it doesn’t say anything about the effects of less snow outside the forest, where it may be beneficial. It is not difficult to imagine that more things will actually grow under these conditions of a longer growing season. That’s why we don’t grow many crops in icefields within the Arctic Circle. Duhh….

    Probably another desperate funding ploy based on global-warming alarmism, which seems to account for about 97% of it.

  23. I have concluded that their is a “thou doth protest too much” effect in organisation names, i.e.:

    Any country with “democratic” in its name is a dictatorship.
    Any country with “workers” in its name oppresses the workers.
    Any university department with “advanced” or “centre of excellence” produces fake research.

  24. Wait a second…I am pretty sure the latest spin from the always wrong climate mafia is that warming leads to MORE snow.
    One might think they need to get their story straight, but they never have done so yet, and continue on as if they have had remarkable success.
    BTW…can we please stop buying into their misdirection by accepting their butt-covering buzz phrase “climate change”?
    Their theory calls for global warming.
    We need to keep their feet to the fire.
    Letting them constantly change the narrative and even the language used, is not helping in this regard.

  25. Question: Did they replace the removed snow with plain water to correct for the fact that warmer temps would have meant the snow was instead liguid precip?
    If not, then what they did was simulate a drought in Fall and early Winter.
    Droughts in this part of the year are very rare in these areas.

  26. So, they expect less snow due to warmer temperatures. But they remove snowpack at today’s temperatures without controlling for the warmer winter (by their estimation) that would cause that and are surprised the trees don’t do well without the snowpack. They didn’t control enough of the variables for this “experiment” to be valid. As usual junk science trying to find a point.

  27. As to the origins of the study

    ADVANCED SCIENCE RESEARCH CENTER, GC/CUNYADVANCED SCIENCE RESEARCH CENTER, GC/CUNY

    now what was that old salsa commercial – made in New York city!!!

    michael

  28. This study represents progress!

    The press release uses only rcp8.5: “projected changes in climate could lead to 95 reduction” of snowpack.” Typical going for the big headline. Clickbait.

    But the paper looks at RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. That is progress from what was typical even three years ago, when papers usually would use only RCP8.5 – mischaracterizing it as “business as usual.”

    Baby steps.

  29. I actually own a northern hardwood forest in northern WI (45º N). It is not uncommon for the frost to be 2-3 feet deep here on any given winter. One low snow El Nino winter people were freezing up septic tanks and well pipes, suggesting that it got 5-6 feet deep. The trees are fine.

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