Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): R. A. Sommerfeld; A. R. Mosier; R. C. Musselman
    Date: 1993
    Source: Nature. 361: 140-142.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (3.1 MB)


    Increasing atmospheric concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases-carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide account for about 70% of anticipated global warming, but the production-consumption budgets are not balanced for any of these gases2. Snow can cover between 44 and 53% of the land area of the Northern Hemisphere3 and may be several metres deep in alpine and sub-alpine regions for more than half the year. Most trace-gas budgets assume that trace-gas exchange stops when soil is snow covered or soil temperatures drop to ~0 °C (refs 4, 5). Thus alpine and sub-alpine soils are generally considered to be net sinks for atmospheric C02. Some reports however, suggest that soil microorganisms beneath the snow continue to respire at temperatures close to 0 °C. Here we present evidence that the soils under alpine and sub-alpine snowpacks emit C02 and N20 and take up atmospheric CH4 throughout the snow-covered period. These fluxes represent an important part of the annual trace-gas budget for these ecosystems.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Sommerfeld, R. A.; Mosier, A. R.; Musselman, R. C. 1993. CO2, CH4 and N2O flux through a Wyoming snowpack and implications for global budgets. Nature. 361: 140-142.


    greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, global warming

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page