Weight loss in overwintering below-ground parts of perennial weeds has been attributed to respiration, but neither its temperature dependence nor its relevance for biomass dynamics under changing climate conditions have been investigated. In two experiments, we quantified weight loss of the perennial weed Sonchus arvensis, by measuring weight changes over time of sprouting roots in dark rooms at temperatures of 4, 8 and 18°C. Dry weight loss rates were 0.47, 0.64 and 1.47% day−1 at 4, 8 and 18°C, respectively, giving a half-life time of 149, 110 and 47 days, respectively. A factor by which weight loss rates increase for every 10° rise in temperature (Q10) was equal to about 2.3. Cumulative weight loss may comprise >40% of the below-ground biomass during overwintering periods. Applying weight loss rates and Q10 to elevated soil temperature projections showed that losses during winter seasons in central Sweden will remain basically constant, the effect of increased weight loss at higher temperatures being balanced by shorter winters. This implies that need for control of S. arvensis in a changing climate will persist, but that shorter winter seasons will provide a longer time window for control of S. arvensis prior to sowing crops.