Descals, A; Verger, A; Filella, I; Baldocchi, D; Janssens, IA; Fu, YH; Piao, S; Peaucelle, M; Ciais, P; Penuelas, J (2020). Soil thawing regulates the spring growth onset in tundra and alpine biomes. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 742, 140637.

Soil temperature remains isothermal at 0 degrees C and water shifts to a liquid phase during soil thawing. Vegetation may receive this process as a signal and a key to restore physiological activity. We aimed to show the relationship between the timing of soil thawing and the spring growth onset. We estimated the delay between the soil thawing and the spring growth onset in 78 sites of the FLUXNET network. We built a soil thawing map derived from modeling for the northern hemisphere and related it to the greenness onset estimated with satellite imagery. Spring onset estimated with GPP time series occurred shortly after soil surface thawing in tundra (1.1 +/- 3.5 days) and alpine grasslands (16.6 +/- 5.8 days). The association was weaker for deciduous forests (40.3 +/- 4.2 days), especially where soils freeze infrequently. Needleleaved forests tended to start the growing season before the end of thawing (-17.4 +/- 3.6 days), although observations from remote sensing (MODIS Land Cover Dynamics) indicated that the onset of greenness started after the thawing period (26.8 +/- 32 days). This study highlights the role of soil temperature at the spring growth onset at high latitudes. Soil thawing becomes less relevant in temperate forests, where soil is occasionally frozen and other climate factors become more important. (C) 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.