Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2013Peer reviewedOpen access

Winter climate controls soil carbon dynamics during summer in boreal forests

Haei, Mahsa; Öquist, Mats; Kreyling, Juergen; Ilstedt, Ulrik; Laudon, Hjalmar


Boreal forests, characterized by distinct winter seasons, store a large proportion of the global terrestrial carbon (C) pool. We studied summer soil C-dynamics in a boreal forest in northern Sweden using a seven-year experimental manipulation of soil frost. We found that winter soil climate conditions play a major role in controlling the dissolution/mineralization of soil organic-C in the following summer season. Intensified soil frost led to significantly higher concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Intensified soil frost also led to higher rates of basal heterotrophic CO2 production in surface soil samples. However, frost-induced decline in the in situ soil CO2 concentrations in summer suggests a substantial decline in root and/or plant associated rhizosphere CO2 production, which overrides the effects of increased heterotrophic CO2 production. Thus, colder winter soils, as a result of reduced snow cover, can substantially alter C-dynamics in boreal forests by reducing summer soil CO2 efflux, and increasing DOC losses.


summer season; carbon dynamics; boreal forest; heterotrophic CO2 production; dissolved organic carbon; soil frost; winter

Published in

Environmental Research Letters
2013, Volume: 8, number: 2, pages: 1-9