Winter Climate Change in the Northern Forest

Project Update: Two scientific papers have resulted from this work and are in press.

Early versions are linked below; check back for final versions.

Contosta, A. R., Casson, N. J., Garlick, S., Nelson, S. J., Ayres, M. P., Burakowski, E. A., Campbell, J., Creed, I., Eimers, C., Evans, C., Fernandez, I., Fuss, C., Huntington, T., Patel, K., Sanders‐DeMott, R., Son, K., Templer, P., and Thornbrugh, C.. 2019. Northern forest winters have lost cold, snowy conditions that are important for ecosystems and human communities. Ecological Applications 29(7):e01974. 10.1002/eap.1974. Online first available:

Contosta, A., Casson, N., Nelson, S. and Garlick, S., 2019. Defining frigid winter illuminates its loss across seasonally snow-covered areas of eastern North America. Environmental Research Letters, in press. Early manuscript available:


img_1794_r1The Northeast Ecosystem Research Cooperative (NERC) and the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation (HBRF) are synthesizing the effects of winter climate change on the Northern Forest. This effort is using the Science Links model that the HBRF pioneered to: 1) engage major stakeholder groups across the Northern Forest region to frame an initial set of questions for scientific synthesis; 2) convene a workshop to synthesize the science of winter climate change effects on the Northern Forest based on stakeholder input; 3) develop a peer-reviewed paper from this workshop; 4) perform direct outreach to stakeholders; and 5) communicate with the broader public. Outputs include a scientific synthesis of climate change and its effects on winter ecology and biogeochemistry in the Northern Forest; a translation of this scientific paper into a summary report for stakeholders, decision makers, and broader public audiences; and an outreach campaign to engage the broader public.  Distribution of these materials will occur online for the translation report, through press releases, op-ed pieces, and social media for the public outreach campaign, and through publication in a peer-reviewed journal for the scientific synthesis. The benefit to the Northern Forest will be a science-based framework of recommendations to help land managers, conservationists, recreation interests, wildlife experts, and policymakers to assess the risks of environmental change on the winter landscape so that economic, conservation, and scientific resources can be invested with greatest effect.


Principal Investigators: 

Alexandra R. Contosta, Earth Systems Research Center, University of New Hampshire

Nora Casson, Department of Geography, University of Winnipeg

Sarah J. Nelson, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine (former); Appalachian Mountain Club (current)

Sarah Garlick, Hubbard Brook Research Foundation

A team of over 30 scientists across northeastern North America have participated by providing scholarly resources, ideas, attended meetings, and supported the proposal for this work.


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