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Keywords:

  • snow;
  • ablation;
  • energy balance;
  • forest canopy;
  • forest disturbance;
  • mountain pine beetle;
  • British Columbia

Abstract

Forest disturbance has a significant impact on hydrology due to its effect on the forest canopy, which is important for precipitation interception, transpiration, site micrometeorology, and snow accumulation and ablation. This study examines the impact of mountain pine beetle infestation and subsequent forest death on snow ablation. Dead stands experience needle loss and canopy reduction due mainly to the loss of small branches and stems, which has a subsequent impact on micrometeorological conditions. Ablation is driven largely by incoming short-wave radiation, which in dead stands is greater than in alive stands, but does not reach that available in clearcuts. Long-wave radiation emission in dead stands is lower than that in alive stands, reducing its contribution to snowpack warming and ablation. Turbulent flux contributions to snow ablation are limited in forest stands relative to clearcuts, although they are slightly greater in dead than alive stands due to the more open forest structure. Additional studies are required to refine the basic energy balance model and incorporate all processes affecting the snow ablation energy balance. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.