Evaluation of forest fire effects on snowpack accumulation and melt

TitleEvaluation of forest fire effects on snowpack accumulation and melt
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1995
AuthorsDodd, B. N., Molnau M., Robichaud P., and Belt G.
Conference Name63rd Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 63rd Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 1995
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationSparks, Nevada
KeywordsFire, Lysimeter, Rain-on-snow

In July of 1991 a fire swept through the Fourth of July Creek drainage in northwestern Montana. This area has a history of rain-on-snow events producing very high runoff and severely damaging streams. This study was set up to study the effects of fire severity on the delivery of snowmelt water to the soil.Snowmelt lysimeters were set up under four conditions a clearcut open site, a very heavily fire damaged site with a few snags left standing, an area of light burn damage and an undisturbed area that had not been logged since at least the 1920’s. Two lysimeters were installed in each treatment in the summer of 1993.Both snowmelt rates and volumes were compared for both snowmelt and rain-on-snow events. Usable data were collected in March and April.Overstory and basal area reduction due to fire or timber removal will increase mean air temperature while it decreases precipitation amount reaching the forest floor.Different meteorological events caused melt rates and volumes to be different for the different canopy overstory amounts.