ASRC Researcher Andrew Reinmann’s latest study on the effect of declining snowpack levels on sugar maple trees has been featured in The New York Times:
Maples need to be about 40 years old before they can be tapped, though they don’t come into their prime, according to Ms. Thomas, until they’re about 90 years old. “If I planted maple trees today, it would be my grandchildren that would be harvesting the sap from them,” she said.
But a recent study suggests that the changing climate is a threat to that process of growth and renewal. Andrew B. Reinmann, an ecologist at the City University of New York, along with colleagues at Boston University and the United States Department of Agriculture, looked at what happens to trees when snowpack declines.
Snowpack is important because, when temperatures dip, it acts as a blanket over the ground that prevents the soil, and the tree roots that reside in it, from freezing. By scraping off snow from some of the forest plots at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire during the first four to six weeks of winter, Dr. Reinmann and his colleagues were able to mimic the delayed snowfall that is predicted by century’s end in the National Climate Assessment.
“After the first year of snow removal, growth rates of the sugar maple trees declined by 40 percent or so, and growth rates remained suppressed between 40 and 55 percent below their growth rates prior to the start of the experiments,” Dr. Reinmann said.