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Remote Sensing

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Forest fires -- Environmental aspects, Water-supply -- Effect of climatic changes on, Forest hydrology, Forest ecology


Surface snow albedo (SSA) darkens immediately following a forest fire, while landscape snow albedo (LSA) brightens as more of the snow-covered surface becomes visible under the charred canopy. The duration and variability of the post-fire snow albedo recovery process remain unknown beyond a few years following the fire. We evaluated the temporal variability of post-fire snow albedo recovery relative to burn severity across a chronosequence of eight burned forests burned from 2000 to 2019, using pre- and post-fire daily, seasonal, and annual landscape snow albedo data derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MOD10A1). Post-fire annual LSA increased by 21% the first year following the fire and increased continually by 33% on average across all eight forest fires and burn severity classifications over the period of record (18 years following a fire). Post-fire LSA measurements increased by 63% and 53% in high and moderate burn severity areas over ten years following fire. While minimum and maximum snow albedo values increased relative to annual post-fire LSA recovery, daily snow albedo decay following fresh snowfall accelerated following forest fire during the snowmelt period. Snow albedo recovery over 10 years following fire did not resemble the antecedent pre-fire unburned forest but more resembled open meadows. The degradation of forest canopy structure is the key driver underlying the paradox of the post-fire snow albedo change (SSA vs. LSA).


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