Winter Climate Change in the Northern Forest


groffmansnowmobilecropResearchers at Hubbard Brook have long studied how climate change manifests itself in the winter landscape. For decades, scientists have gathered and analyzed data on winter conditions including snowfall amounts, duration of snow cover, soil freezing, persistence of ice on Mirror Lake, phenology, and ice storms. As winter conditions change because of climate change, the biogeochemical effects are widespread, affecting everything from the roots of sugar maple saplings (which can be harmed by freezing soils if there is less of a blanket of insulating snow) to the health of moose (whose living conditions can be altered by increases in tick populations or changes in browse).

In a project funded by the National Science Foundation, HBRF staff members worked hand-in-hand with scientists to develop programs to share information on winter climate change with local stakeholders, educators, and members of the public. The work with stakeholders took the form of two facilitated roundtables that brought together climate scientists with citizens whose livelihoods depend on winter conditions. These included sugarmakers, ski area operators, snowmobilers, foresters, agricultural extension agents, ice climbers, trail managers, wildlife experts, and others. Educational activities focused on developing data-based lessons and other tools for teachers of middle- and high school students, and also winter field schools that offered hands-on experience in gathering and analyzing data on winter conditions.


Tuckerman Ravine, J. Fongemie,

The links below offer outputs of the Winter Climate Change Project, including op-ed pieces, white papers, media coverage, data-based lessons, and a synthesis paper in the journal BioScience written by Hubbard Brook scientists that covers a wide range of winter-related topics. A bibliography of winter-related articles is included here and also as an appendix in the Hubbard Brook White Papers.

Synthesis and White Papers

Effects of Winter Climate Change on Growing Season Sap Flow and Carbon Exchange in the Northern Hardwood Forest

Long-Term Integrated Studies Show Complex and Surprising Effects of Climate Change in the Northern Hardwood Forest

Riding Winter’s Trails

The Changing Face of Winter

Op-ed pieces and media coverage

Snowmobiling Must Adapt to Climate Change

  Snowmobiling in an Age of Climate Change

The Snow Day Call: Has the threshold for snow days fallen?

Maple Syrup, Moose, and the Impacts of Climate Change in the North

A Climate Change Call to Arms

Hubbard Brook Research Featured on WBZ CBS Boston Local News

Data-based lessons

Snowpack Studies

For middle school Earth or physical science classes, high school ecology and environmental science classes.

Climate Change-a hot topic!

For advanced high school ecology and environmental science classes.

Colder Soils in a Warmer World

For advanced high school ecology and environmental science classes.

Ice Storm Damage

Grade 11 Mock NECAP Inquiry Task Exam & Answer Guide

Additional Resources

Winter Climate Change Bibliography


The Hubbard Brook Research Foundation’s work on winter climate change is supported with grants from the USDA Forest Service’s Northeastern States Research Cooperative and the National Science Foundation (Award No. 0949558).



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