Title

The Post-Wildfire Impact of Burn Severity and Age on Black Carbon Snow Deposition and Implications for Snow Water Resources, Cascade Range, Washington

Document Type

Article

Department or Administrative Unit

Geological Sciences

Publication Date

8-1-2020

Abstract

Wildfires in the snow zone affect ablation by removing forest canopy, which enhances surface solar irradiance, and depositing light absorbing particles [LAPs, such as black carbon (BC)] on the snowpack, reducing snow albedo. How variations in BC deposition affects post-wildfire snowmelt timing is poorly known and highly relevant to water resources. We present a field-based analysis of BC variability across five sites of varying burn age and burn severity in the Cascade Range, Washington State, United States. Single particle soot photometer (SP2) analyses of BC snow concentrations were used to assess the impact of BC on snow albedo, and radiative transfer modeling was used to estimate the radiative effect of BC on snowmelt. Results were compared to Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) data from one site that burned in 2012 and another in a proximal unburned forest. We show that post-wildfire forests provide a significant source of BC to the snowpack, and this effect increases by an order of magnitude in regions of high versus low burn severity, and decreased by two orders of magnitude over a decade. There is a shift in the timing of snowmelt, with snow disappearance occurring on average 19 ± 9 days earlier post-wildfire (2013–19) relative to pre-wildfire (1983–2012). This study improves understanding of the connection between wildfire activity and snowmelt, which is of high relevance as climate change models project further decreases in snowpack and increases in wildfire activity in the Washington Cascades.

Comments

This article was originally published in Journal of Hydrometeorology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Journal

Journal of Hydrometeorology

Rights

© Copyright 2019 American Meteorological Society (AMS). For permission to reuse any portion of this work, please contact permissions@ametsoc.org. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 U.S. Code §?107) or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC § 108) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a website or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. All AMS journals and monograph publications are registered with the Copyright Clearance Center (https://www.copyright.com). Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy statement, available on the AMS website (https://www.ametsoc.org/PUBSCopyrightPolicy).

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