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Article
Four-fold Increase in Solar Forcing on Snow in Western U.S. Burned Forests Since 1999
Nature Communications
  • Kelly E. Gleason, Portland State University
  • Joseph R. McConnell, Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute
  • Monica M. Arienzo, Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute
  • Nathan Chellman, Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute
  • Wendy M. Calvin, University of Nevada, Reno
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
1-1-2019
Subjects
  • Forest management -- Environmental aspects,
  • Forest fires -- West (U.S.)
Abstract

Forest fires are increasing across the American West due to climate warming and fire suppression. Accelerated snow melt occurs in burned forests due to increased light transmission through the canopy and decreased snow albedo from deposition of light-absorbing impurities. Using satellite observations, we document up to an annual 9% growth in western forests burned since 1984, and 5 day earlier snow disappearance persisting for >10 years following fire. Here, we show that black carbon and burned woody debris darkens the snowpack and lowers snow albedo for 15 winters following fire, using measurements of snow collected from seven forested sites that burned between 2002 and 2016. We estimate a 372 to 443% increase in solar energy absorbed by snowpacks occurred beneath charred forests over the past two decades, with enhanced post-fire radiative forcing in 2018 causing earlier melt and snow disappearance in > 11% of forests in the western seasonal snow zone.

Description

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

DOI
10.1038/s41467-019-09935-y
Persistent Identifier
https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/28721
Citation Information
Gleason, K. E., McConnell, J. R., Arienzo, M. M., Chellman, N., & Calvin, W. M. (2019). Four-fold increase in solar forcing on snow in western US burned forests since 1999. Nature communications, 10(1), 2026.