Are vegetation influences on Arctic–boreal snow melt rates detectable across the Northern Hemisphere?

Kropp, Heather, Loranty, Michael M, Rutter, Nick, Fletcher, Christopher G, Derksen, Chris, Mudryk, Lawrence and Todt, Markus (2022) Are vegetation influences on Arctic–boreal snow melt rates detectable across the Northern Hemisphere? Environmental Research Letters, 17 (10). p. 104010. ISSN 1748-9326

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The timing and rate of northern high latitude spring snowmelt plays a critical role in surface albedo, hydrology, and soil carbon cycling. Ongoing changes in the abundance and distribution of trees and shrubs in tundra and boreal ecosystems can alter snowmelt via canopy impacts on surface energy partitioning. It is unclear whether vegetation-related processes observed at the ecosystem scale influence snowmelt patterns at regional or continental scales. We examined the influence of vegetation cover on snowmelt across the boreal and Arctic region across a ten-year reference period (2000–2009) using a blended snow water equivalent (SWE) data product and gridded estimates of surface temperature, tree cover, and land cover characterized by the dominant plant functional type. Snow melt rates were highest in locations with a late onset of melt, higher temperatures during the melt period, and higher maximum SWE before the onset of melt. After controlling for temperature, melt onset, and the maximum SWE, we found snow melt rates were highest in evergreen needleleaf forest, mixed boreal forest, and herbaceous tundra compared to deciduous needleleaf forest and deciduous shrub tundra. Tree canopy cover had little effect on snowmelt rate within each land cover type. While accounting for the influence of vegetative land cover type is necessary for predictive understanding of snowmelt rate variability across the Arctic–Boreal region. The relationships differed from observations at the ecosystem and catchment scales in other studies. Thus highlighting the importance of spatial scale in identifying snow-vegetation relationships.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: Funding for this study was provided by the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute at Colgate University to M L, H K, M L, C F, C D, and N R. M T was supported by supported by the Canadian Sea Ice and Snow Evolution (CanSISE) Network, which is funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Climate Change and Atmospheric Research program.
Uncontrolled Keywords: snowmelt, snow water equivalent, vegetation, boreal
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2022 14:37
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2022 14:45

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