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Observations of snow depth and meteorological variables in forests and nearby open areas at field sites in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, USA


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Dickerson-Lange SE, Gersonde RF, Hubbart JA, Link TE, Nolin AW, Perry GH, Roth TR, Wayand NE, Lundquist JD. 2016. Snow disappearance timing in warm winter climates is dominated by forest effects on snow accumulation. Hydrological Processes, 31(10): 1846–1862. doi:10.1002/hyp.11144


Snow and meteorological observations were collected over a range of water years (WY) by three research institutions and by citizen scientists to characterize forest effects on snow processes across the Pacific Northwest, USA. Fourteen total study sites cover the western slopes and crest of the Cascade Range in WA and OR, and central and northern ID. Each study location includes one or more paired forest and open area in which to compare snow observations. A range of forest canopy densities and data collection strategies are represented, including paired manual snow courses, snow pits, automated sensors, and time-lapse images of snow measurement poles. Analysis and synthesis of all of these sites are presented in the data citation. [...]

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Principal Investigator :
Jessica Lundquist
Point of Contact :
Susan E. Dickerson-Lange
Distributor :
U.S. Geological Survey - ScienceBase
Metadata Contact :
Susan E. Dickerson-Lange
Originator :
Jessica Lundquist, Susan E. Dickerson-Lange

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Climate change is projected to cause earlier snowmelt, with potentially serious consequences for terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and for municipal and agricultural water supplies. However, if forests can be managed to retain snow longer, some of these environmental and financial impacts may be mitigated. Recent results from our research team demonstrate that in areas with relatively warm winters, strategically-cut forest gaps could offset climatic warming by increasing snow retention on the landscape and delaying runoff. However, in areas with colder winters, the opposite is true, as snow lasts longer under the forest canopy. We will map these climate-forest-snow interactions across the Pacific Northwest, predicting how forest change is likely to affect snow duration in different locations and testing those predictions against careful observations from our field sites and a network of citizen scientists. Working with regional forest and water managers, we will identify strategies for applying these findings to decision-making, linking climate-forest-snow interactions to ecohydrologic conditions important to management. Results from this project will help managers to act strategically to maximize snow retention (protecting forests in some areas while opening gaps in others), providing more water later in the season for hydropower, agriculture, and fish flows.

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doi doi:10.5066/F70C4SW3

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