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Ranking forest effects on snow storage: a decision tool for forest management

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Created: Oct 07, 2019 at 1:51 p.m.
Last updated: Dec 13, 2020 at 10:15 p.m.
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Forests modify snow accumulation and ablation rates, and overall snow storage amounts and durations, with multiple processes acting simultaneously and often in different directions. To synthesize complex forest-snow relations and help guide near-term management decisions, we present a decision tree model based on a hypothesized hierarchy of processes and associated variables that predict forest effects on snow storage. In locations with high wind speeds, forests enhance snow storage magnitude and duration relative to open areas. Where wind speeds are low, and winter and spring air temperatures are colder, forests diminish snow storage magnitude but enhance duration. Where air temperatures are warmer, forests diminish both magnitude and duration. Forest structure and aspect are secondary influences that shift the net effect of forest on snow storage. We apply the model to map the influence of forests on snow storage under historic and warming climate conditions across the western United States, but this model is applicable in any region with forests and snow. The decision tree model provides practitioners a first-step evaluation to guide management decisions that consider where and how forests can be managed to optimize in-situ water storage alongside other objectives, such as reducing wildfire fuels. This framework also articulates geospatial hypotheses, in order of anticipated importance, to be tested in future investigations of forest-snow-climate relations.

The data and code included herein are described in Dickerson-Lange, et al. 2021, Ranking forest effects on snow storage: a decision tool for forest management, Water Resources Research. The repository contains all input data, model code, and results.

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Resource Level Coverage


Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
North Latitude
East Longitude
South Latitude
West Longitude




Derived From: PRISM 800m DEM and Climate Normals (https://prism.oregonstate.edu/normals/)
Derived From: National Landcover Dataset, 2011 (https://www.mrlc.gov/data)

Related Resources

The content of this resource serves as the data for: Dickerson-Lange, S. E., J. A. Vano, R. Gersonde, and J. D. Lundquist (2021), Ranking forest effects on snow storage: a decision tool for forest management, Water Resources Research


Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
Department of the Interior Northwest Climate Science Center Cooperative Agreement GS297A

How to Cite

Dickerson-Lange, S., J. Lundquist, J. Vano, R. Gersonde (2020). Ranking forest effects on snow storage: a decision tool for forest management, HydroShare, http://www.hydroshare.org/resource/76e60d8b9ead4c33898c14dd677c6e06

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.



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