Predicting Forest Snow Water Equivalent

by James A. Bergman, USDA, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest & Range Experiment Station, Soda Springs, CA, US,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Watershed Management in the Eighties


In California, the snowpack of the Sierra Nevada provides more than one-third of the state's water needs. Regression models used to forecast this supply do not include measurement of snow within the forest cover. Studies of snowpack recession at the Forest Services's Central Sierra Snow Laboratory, in northern California, suggests that snow under a forest canopy provides a late-season water supply. And that supply can extend runoff for up to 25 days after snow in open sites has melted. Consequently, late-season water supply may be underestimated if snow water-equivalent of the forest snow cover is not considered in the forecasts. Analysis of 11 years of snowpack data suggests a close relationship between snow water-equivalent in open and forest sites.

Subject Headings: Forests | Snow | Water management | Laboratory tests | Water supply | Regression analysis | Canopies | Watersheds | United States | California | Nevada

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