Title

Forest Fire Effects on Snow Storage and Melt

Date

12-8-2020 9:10 AM

Abstract

Fresh water is stored several ways in the environment. Seasonal snow stores the majority of annual water resources in the western United States. The snow that collects in the mountainous forests play a critical role in ecological and stream health. Impending changes in the climate, for example, increasing intensity of forest fires, make it more important than ever to understand how these changes are affecting our snow storage and associated water resource availability in the western United States. This study will characterize the changes in snow accumulation, storage, and melt across the western United States after forest fire has occurred using data from eighty-eight snow telemetry monitoring stations before and after forest fire occurred to evaluate the effects of disturbance to metrics of snow accumulation, storage, and melt. The metrics evaluated are the peak snow water equivalent (SWE), timing of peak SWE, timing of snowmelt, melt rate, and snow disappearance date (SDD) for the years before and after disturbance occurred. The entire period of record available at each site is analyzed, in some cases this exceeds forty years. We will better understand how forest fires affect snow accumulation, storage, and melt and associated water resource availability and through this empirical investigation we will help inform water resource modeling and predictions in the future.

Biographies

Emily Smoot
Major: Geology

Emily Smoot is a graduate of Portland Community College with an inspired love for learning and curiosity of the physical world stemming from her untraditional educational background as an unschooler. She is an undergraduate at Portland State University and concluding her senior year. Emily will be graduating in Summer 2020 from the University Honors College with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Geology and minoring in Physics. She has an affinity for research and is conducting two independent research projects--one for the University Honors College and one for the McNair Scholars Program. Once she has completed her undergraduate education, Emily will pursue a Master of Science in Geology at Western Washington University with Dr. Robert Mitchell. In her free time, Emily enjoys learning about aspects of the physical world and its inhabitants and has been a volunteer for the Cascade Pika Watch for the past two years. She also enjoys foraging for wild edibles in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Emily hopes to one day pursue a doctoral degree in hydrogeology and use her education to improve and promote the understanding and use of our natural environment and the resources it provides for us.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kelly Gleason
Professor Kelly E. Gleason serves as an Assistant Professor in Ecohydrology for the Department of Environmental Science and Management at Portland State University. Dr. Gleason teaches upper division and graduate level statistics, hydrology, and earth system dynamics, and is the director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Hydrology at PSU. Dr. Gleason’s research is focused on understanding interactions of water, climate, and ecosystems in a changing climate, particularly how forest fire disturbances alter snow hydrology and downstream water resource availability. Dr. Gleason’s research is primarily funded through the NASA Terrestrial Hydrology program, in addition to NSF and USACE. Additionally, she has received awards to support collaborations with the USGS to better understand local Columbia River Basin disturbance impacts to water resource quality and availability. Dr. Gleason obtained a B.S. degree in Ecology from The Evergreen State College, a M.S. degree in geostatistics from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. degree from Oregon State University in Geography. Additionally, she was a Peace Corps agroforestry volunteer in Paraguay and worked as a field ecologist and ecohydrologist for multiple agencies and institutions including the USFS, BLM, NPS, USGS and DRI.

Disciplines

Geology

Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/33521

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Aug 12th, 9:10 AM

Forest Fire Effects on Snow Storage and Melt

Fresh water is stored several ways in the environment. Seasonal snow stores the majority of annual water resources in the western United States. The snow that collects in the mountainous forests play a critical role in ecological and stream health. Impending changes in the climate, for example, increasing intensity of forest fires, make it more important than ever to understand how these changes are affecting our snow storage and associated water resource availability in the western United States. This study will characterize the changes in snow accumulation, storage, and melt across the western United States after forest fire has occurred using data from eighty-eight snow telemetry monitoring stations before and after forest fire occurred to evaluate the effects of disturbance to metrics of snow accumulation, storage, and melt. The metrics evaluated are the peak snow water equivalent (SWE), timing of peak SWE, timing of snowmelt, melt rate, and snow disappearance date (SDD) for the years before and after disturbance occurred. The entire period of record available at each site is analyzed, in some cases this exceeds forty years. We will better understand how forest fires affect snow accumulation, storage, and melt and associated water resource availability and through this empirical investigation we will help inform water resource modeling and predictions in the future.