As global temperatures continue to rise there has been an increase in forest fire frequency and severity. With larger areas of forest being burned it is increasingly important to understand how forest fires effect snow processes. Previous research shows that burned areas will accumulate more snow and that this snow will melt much faster when compared to unburned forests. These conditions can lead to high magnitude stream flows which have broad implications for reservoir managers, flood control, and groundwater recharge.
This project studied the post-wildfire effects on accumulation and ablation rates of snowpack in a recently burned forest. The Shadow Lake fire in the Mt. Washington Wilderness near Sisters, Oregon burned over 10,000 acres in the late summer of 2011. In situ snowpack measurements were made in both burned and unburned forest areas. Graphs were created in order to analyze these areas for similarities and differences between snow depth, density, temperature, and concentration of burned and unburned forest debris (bark, needles, etc.) within the snowpack.
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