Seasonal snowcover dynamics beneath boreal forest canopies Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/qv33s177z

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  • The accurate simulation of snowpack deposition and ablation beneath forested areas is confounded by the fact that the vegetation canopy strongly affects the snow surface energy balance. The canopy alters the radiation balance of the snowcover, and reduces the wind speed at the snow surface. Data collected as part of the BOREAS experiment are used to analyze the effects of a variety of forest canopies on the climate at the snow surface. Simple algorithms are developed and used to adjust climate data collected above forest canopies to the snow surface. A 2-layer coupled energy- and mass-balance snowmelt model is used to simulate the deposition and ablation of the snowpack at five forested sites within the Canadian boreal forest for the 1994-1995 snow season. Results of the snowcover simulations indicate that the net snowcover energy balance remains close to zero for the winter months, but exhibits a sharp increase in the spring months. The rapid energy gain in the spring is strongly controlled by canopy cover, and is dominated by net radiation fluxes, with minor contributions from sensible, latent, soil, and advected energy fluxes. Net snowcover irradiance dominates during the spring months due to increased solar intensity and longer day lengths, coupled with increased radiation transmission through canopies at high sun angles, and reduced snowcover albedo resulting from the deposition of fine organic debris. Turbulent (sensible and latent) energy fluxes comprise a relatively minor portion of the net snowcover energy exchange, indicating that the sub-canopy snowcover is relatively insensitive to the meteorological parameters controlling these fluxes. The low thermal conductivity of organic-rich boreal soils must be considered for studies focusing on snowcover development when soil heat flux comprises a large portion of the snowcover energy balance. Model outputs at all sites generally show good agreement with measured snow depths, indicating that the techniques used in these investigations accurately simulate both the deposition and ablation of seasonal snowcovers. Results indicate that snowcovers in the boreal environment may be more sensitive to land-use transitions, rather than climate shifts, due to the strong control exerted by vegetation canopies on radiation transfer processes. The results also suggest that simple canopy adjustment algorithms may be effectively applied to spatially distributed snowcover simulations. More data is required to evaluate the accuracy of these methods for computing energy transfer within canopies having significantly different structures than the sites used in this study.
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