Andrei Lapenas - 25 Apr 2018

Andrei Lapenas, University of Albany – State University of New York, USA.

"A Newly Identified Role of the Deciduous Forest Floor in the Timing of Green-Up​"


Plant phenology studies usually focus on air temperature. Here we investigated significance of soil (edaphic) properties as additional important controls on phenology using satellite-observed green-up dates of small forested watersheds and measured soil properties in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, USA.  The spatial variability of green-up days was controlled by climate as well as by physical and chemical properties of forest soil. Forest floor thickness, the concentration of exchangeable potassium, and soil acidity manifest themselves as controls of surface greening. Biochemical mechanism linking the forest floor and green-up dates might be instrumental for predicting forest responses to climate warming.


Andrei Lapenis is a Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Albany –State University of New York (UAlbany). He obtained his PhD in oceanography from Russian State Hydrometeorological University in St. Petersburg. From 1986 to 1992 he worked at the Department of Climate Change of the State Hydrological Institute in Russia where he and a group of colleagues developed an original approach to the long-term prediction of climate change, now known as paleo-analogues or paleocalibration. In 1992 Andrei accepted an invitation to be a visiting scholar in the Department of Earth Sciences at New York University where he worked on paleoclimatic reconstructions and ocean-atmosphere climate and carbon cycle models.

In 1992 Andrei moved to UAlbany where his interests turned from the oceanic to the terrestrial cycle of carbon.  The basis for this work was Historic Russian Soil Collection (HRSC): a large set of late 19th early 20th century soil monoliths hosted by Dokuchaev’s Soil Museum in St. Petersburg.  During this time Andrei participated in intensive field work at many original HRSC sampling locations across Russia and Eastern Europe. His analysis of old and modern soil samples resulted in a series of articles on estimated turnover times of labile and relatively stable carbon fractions of soil organic matter as well as observations of changes in the chemical composition of native forest and steppe soils, including leaching of base cations and soil fertility.  More recently, Andrei’s interests have changed again, this time to forest ecophysiology and especially to the physical and biogeochemical feedback mechanisms linking climate change, plant phenology and soil.    

In addition to his work, Andrei is passionate about history of science and sailing. He has sailed the Baltic and Mediterranean seas, the Caribbean and the Great Lakes.