Life under snow: protection and limitation

  • Christian Körner


In the alpine zone snow can fall and cover vegetation at any time of the year at all latitudes. Higher plants can be found in habitats of mean snow duration of anywhere between 330 and a few days (in the tropics) per year. In some cases, at higher latitudes, alpine plants may even have to (and do) survive one or two years of permanent snowpack, as can happen due to yearly variable snow distribution by wind (Moser et al. 1977). Snow cover strongly determines the distribution of plant species in the alpine zone as was discussed in Chapter 4. Some profit, others suffer. This chapter deals with the conditions for life and plant responses under snow at high altitudes. For more extensive treatments of snow physics and the climate under snow I refer to Geiger (1965), Gray and Male (1981), and Marchand (1991).


Snow Cover Snow Depth Dwarf Shrub Alpine Plant Quantum Flux Density 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Körner
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of BotanyUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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