Our wonder of nature, our admiration of nature, our awe of nature, is so often based on its complexity. And the more we learn of nature, the more wondrously complex it becomes.

This Nature Change interview with Dr. Randy Schaetzl takes a look at one very narrow piece of that complexity—a narrow piece that could play an important part in global warming.

Schaetzl, a professor of geography and geology at Michigan State University, recently teamed with a colleague to study the role that snow plays in storing carbon in the soils of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. What they found is that deep snows, when they melt, produce enough water to push carbon deeply into the soil, and the carbon then remains in the soil. Shallow snows, on the other hand, do not push carbon deeply enough into the soils for it to remain there, and the carbon volatilizes to the atmosphere, where it contributes to making Earth warmer.

Schaetzl, interviewed here by Northern Michigan district forester Kama Ross, explains the study and key concepts in an enjoyable and easy-to-understand way.

This video, part of an ongoing series, is produced by Joe VanderMeulen for Nature Change, a Northern Michigan nonprofit dedicated to reporting on global warming, the North’s changing ecology and people who are passionate about protecting nature.

Check out more Nature Change videos:

Photo(s) by Joe VanderMeulen, Nature Change