Ecological responses to variation in seasonal snow cover, study published in the Conservation biology: the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, try to research this interesting issue in detail. The researchers explain: "Seasonal snow is among the most important factors governing the ecology of many terrestrial ecosystems, but rising global temperatures are changing snow regimes and driving widespread declines in the depth and duration of snow cover." Researchers then added: "Loss of the insulating snow layer will fundamentally change the environment.
Understanding how individuals, populations, and communities respond to different snow conditions is thus essential for predicting and managing future ecosystem change. We synthesized 365 studies that examined ecological responses to variation in winter snow conditions."
Ecological variation in seasonal snow cover
They also explained: "This research encompasses a broad range of methods (experimental manipulations, measurement of natural snow gradients, and long-term monitoring), locations (35 countries), study organisms (plants, mammals, arthropods, birds, fish, lichen , and fungi), and response measures.
Earlier snowmelt was consistently associated with advanced spring phenology in plants, mammals, and arthropods. Reduced snow depth often increased mortality or physical injury in plants, although there were few clear effects on animals.
Neither snow depth nor snowmelt timing had clear or consistent directional effects on body size of animals or biomass of plants. However, because 96% of studies were from the northern hemisphere, the generality of these trends across ecosystems and localities is also unclear.We identified substantial research gaps for several taxonomic groups and response types;research on wintertime responses was notably scarce.Future research should prioritize examination of the mechanisms underlying responses to changing snow conditions and the consequences of those responses for seasonally snow-covered ecosystems." The snow accumulated on the ground can follow two paths: melt in the hottest periods such as spring and summer or remain so if the temperatures remain constantly below zero.
In this case, which occurs above the so-called perennial snowline, starting from a certain altitude upwards, which varies according to the latitude, the snow begins to follow a transformation cycle which will turn it into ice thanks to the process of metamorphism of the crystals and the weight of the snow above by expelling the air contained in the interstices and progressively self-compacting.
The ice thus formed from the 5th year onwards goes to form the glacier. The blankets of perennial snow together with the perennial ice are part of the so-called cryosphere.