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Effects of forest disturbance on seasonal soil temperature changes in the Tatra Mountains in southern Poland

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The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of forest disturbance on seasonal changes in soil temperature in the Tatra Mountains (Poland). In the years 2015–2020 soil temperatures were measured at a depth of 20 cm on north- and south-facing mountain slopes in a catchment where forest was disturbed by hurricane-force winds in 2013 and in a control neighboring woodland catchment. The effect of forest disturbance was manifested first and foremost in an increase in the soil temperature during the summer months – average by 1.8 to 2.4 °C on a south-facing mountain slope – and by about 1 °C on a north-facing slope. The buffer effect of forest on soil temperature can be observed via lower coefficients of correlation between soil temperature and air temperature in a woodland catchment versus a disturbed catchment in the summer. In the winter, the effect of forest disturbance on soil temperature was less pronounced than in the summer. Small differences in soil temperature in the winter between the woodland catchment and the disturbed catchment were associated with the presence of snow cover and its capacity to yield thermal insulation. Good insulation of the soil from the atmosphere generated by snow cover yielded a very weak relationship between soil temperature and air temperature in the winter. In springtime the soil temperature increased the fastest on a south-facing slope in the disturbed catchment while in the autumn season, soil temperatures declined most rapidly on a slope facing north in the disturbed catchment.

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Life Sciences, Plant Science, Ecology, other