The general role of snow in the ecology of snow-covered systems is presented. A brief review on the interactions between snow and climate, and between snow and microorganisms, vegetation and animals is followed by a discussion on some of the processes which mediate nutrient cycling when snow lies on the ground. The influence of snow on nutrient cycling and its importance in the overall biological productivity of snow-covered ecosystems is illustrated by the study of the dynamics of nitrogen (N). The topics include the assimilation of N by algae within snow cover, the gaseous emissions of CO2 and N2O from soil under snow cover and the hydrologic export of N during snowmelt. Copyright (C) 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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