Effects of Forest Cover on a Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada

by Richard Kattelmann, Univ of California, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Watershed Planning and Analysis in Action


Adjacent snowpacks in a clearing and under a forest canopy were compared over a decade at a site near Lake Tahoe. This comparison provides a few indications of the differences in snowpack water equivalence (SWE) that can be expected in similar situations. By early January, SWE in the clearing was usually more than 10 cm greater than that in the forest. By the time of peak accumulation, the open snowpack exceeded the forest snowpack by an average of 20 cm. From the time of peak accumulation until snow cover disappearance, the rate of snowmelt in the clearing was 75 percent greater than that in the forest, on the average. Because of the slower rate of snowmelt in the forest, the forest site remained snow-covered for an average of 18 days after the disappearance of snow in the clearing.

Subject Headings: Snow | Forests | Snowmelt | Mountains | Lakes | Hydrology | Comparative studies | Nevada | United States

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