Delaying Snowpack Ablation

TitleDelaying Snowpack Ablation
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2007
AuthorsOsterhuber, R., Hogan M., Grismer M., and Drake K.
Conference Name75th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 75th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 2007
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationKailua-Kona, HI
KeywordsSnowmelt, albedo, snowmelt rates, Lake Tahoe, wood chips

Just north of Lake Tahoe in California's Sierra Nevada, three 9 m2 areas of the melting spring snowpack were covered with layers of wood chips, 2, 5, and 10 cm thick. This was an investigative exercise to determine if snowmelt rates could be significantly altered during soil restoration projects. Snowmelt under the wood chips was found to be exponentially slower than the surrounding snowpack, while melting at a highly linear rate. Melt rate corresponded to the thickness of the wood chip layer. The snow plot covered with 10 cm of chips was found to melt slowest, losing on average 0.87 cm of water equivalent per day. The snow under the thickest layer of wood chips persisted 23 days longer than the surrounding snow cover.