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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Boise, Idaho » Northwest Watershed Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #207490

Title: Sub-canopy radiant energy during snowmelt in uniform and non-uniform forests spanning a latitudinal transect

item LINK, TIM
item Marks, Daniel

Submitted to: Trans American Geophysical Union
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/20/2006
Publication Date: 12/20/2006
Citation: Link, T., Essery, T., Hardy, J., Marks, D., Pomeroy, J., Reba, M., and Sicart, J. 2006. Sub-canopy radiant energy during snowmelt in uniform and non-uniform forests spanning a latitudinal transect. EOS Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, 87(52), Fall Meeting Supplement, Abs C21B-1144.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In mountainous, forested environments, snowcover dynamics exert a strong control on hydrologic and atmospheric processes. Snowcover ablation patterns in forests are controlled by a complex combination of depositional patterns coupled with radiative and turbulent heat flux patterns related to topographic and canopy cover variations. Quantification of small-scale variations of radiant energy in forested environments is necessary to understand how canopy structure affects snowcover energetics to improve the representation of snowmelt processes in spatially-explicit physically-based snowmelt models. Incoming solar and thermal radiation were measured during the melt season within continuous and discontinuous forest stands, and at the interface between forest patches and small clearings along a transect spanning the North American Cordillera. Results indicate that reductions in solar radiation at the snow surface are partially balanced by increased thermal radiation from the forest canopy, relative to open locations. The differences between the transfer processes for solar and thermal radiation can produce two net incoming and net snowcover radiation paradoxes in heterogeneous environments. In discontinuous canopies, net radiation in forested areas may exceed radiation in open sites, whereas in other situations, net radiation may be less than net radiation in closed canopy forests. The empirical results coupled with theoretical modeling indicates that the effects of forest canopies on the radiative regimes at the snow surface are controlled by complex interactions of slope, aspect, gap sizes, canopy height, canopy density, canopy temperature, snow surface temperature and snowcover albedo. In higher latitude, closed canopy forests, radiative regimes may be characterized by relatively simple geometric optical radiation transfer methods, whereas at lower latitude and more non-uniform forests, other processes such as canopy and stem heating must be considered. These net radiation differences coupled with decreased turbulent fluxes due to lower wind velocities and reduced snow water equivalent values due to canopy interception losses help to explain small-scale patterns of snowmelt in non-uniform forested areas. Future investigations will use physically based models coupled with LiDAR derived topographic and vegetation data to assess how these small-scale processes integrate in both space and time to control the timing and rates of snowcover ablation in complex vegetated terrain.