Some cool research at UNH experimental farms and forests about ways that warming winters change NH ecosystems’ effect on climate change. In sum, grassland took in more carbon because they started growing earlier but, counter-intuitively, forests took in less:
The forest could not benefit from warm winter conditions because growing new leaves takes time, and trees bear greater risks of leafing out too early if colder weather returns. So, instead of becoming a greater carbon sink, the forest lost carbon during the early spring due to elevated decomposing in the unusually warm soils. Although small carbon losses in spring are not unusual, the extended time period between soil thaw and leaf out in 2016 caused the forest to lose 2.5 times more carbon than normal.
UNH Today article on the research is here.