Preliminary information on snow interception, accumulation, and melt in northern Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine forests

TitlePreliminary information on snow interception, accumulation, and melt in northern Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine forests
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1995
AuthorsMcCaughey, W. W., Hansen K., and Farnes P. E.
Conference Name63rd Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 63rd Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 1995
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationSparks, Nevada
KeywordsForest openings, Interception, Lodgepole pine

Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest (TCEF) is located in the Little Belt Mountains in north central Montana and was established in 1961 for watershed research. Tenderfoot Creek flows into the Smith River, a major tributary of the Missouri River. In the early 1990’s, the original watershed scope for TCEF was expanded to include studies of fire, fisheries, composition of vegetation and animal communities, and other physical, biological, and social factors as they relate to landscape-level management. Social factors relating to water resources are increasing in importance for research on TCEF. Information on snow interception, accumulation, and snow melt from mountain watersheds is important for stream flow management in the Northern Rocky Mountains such as the Smith, Missouri and upper Columbia river systems.Preliminary data on snow water equivalent (SWE) in lodgepole pine stands were measured on six paired snow courses in TCEF. Two snow pillows, one in an opening and the second in an adjacent lodgepole pine stand, were installed during the fall of 1993 and SWE was recorded, for these pillows, on continuous chart recorders during the winters of 1993/94 and 1994/95. The snow pillows are also located adjacent to an open/canopy snow course pair, at the headwaters of Tenderfoot Creek. Snow water content increased an average of 38 percent in openings over adjacent stands of lodgepole pine and ranged from 19 to 85 percent. Canopy density influenced snow accumulations and redistribution of snow from lodgepole crowns to the ground. Snow melt-out occurred approximately 2 weeks later on canopied sites than on open sites.