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Forests 2016, 7(8), 166; doi:10.3390/f7080166

Small-Scale Effect of Pine Stand Pruning on Snowpack Distribution in the Pyrenees Observed with a Terrestrial Laser Scanner

1
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (IPE-CSIC), Departamento de Procesos Geoambientales y Cambio Global, Avda. Montañana, 1005, Zaragoza 50059, Spain
2
Laboratoire d’étude des Transferts en Hydrologie et Environnement, Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS-IRD, LTHE, UMR5564, Grenoble 38000, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Isabel Cañellas and Timothy A. Martin
Received: 7 May 2016 / Revised: 18 July 2016 / Accepted: 26 July 2016 / Published: 29 July 2016
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Abstract

Forests in snow-dominated areas have substantial effects on the snowpack and its evolution over time. Such interactions have significant consequences for the hydrological response of mountain rivers. Thus, the impact of forest management actions on the snow distribution, and hence the storage of water in the form of snow during winter and spring, is a major concern. The results of this study provide the first detailed comparison of the small-scale effect of forest characteristics on the snowpack distribution, assessed prior to and following major modification of the structure of the canopy by pruning of the lower branches of the trees to 3 m above the ground. This is a common management practice aimed at reducing the spread of forest fires. The snowpack distribution was determined using terrestrial laser scanning (LiDAR technology) at a high spatial resolution (0.25 m) over a 1000 m2 study area during 23 survey dates over three snow seasons in a small study area in the central Pyrenees. The pruning was conducted during summer following the snow season in the second year of the study (i.e., the study duration encompassed two seasons prior to canopy pruning and one following). Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to identify recurring spatial patterns of snow distribution. The results showed that pruning reduced the average radius of the canopy of trees by 1.2 m, and increased the clearance around the trunks, as all the branches that formerly contacted the ground were removed. However, the impact on the snowpack was moderate. The PCA revealed that the spatial configuration of the snowpack did not change significantly, as the principal components included survey days from different periods of the snow season, and did not discriminate days surveyed prior to and following pruning. Nevertheless, removal of the lower branches reduced the area beneath the canopy by 36%, and led to an average increase in total snow depth of approximately 14%. View Full-Text
Keywords: snow distribution; canopy pruning; terrestrial laser scanner (TLS); Pyrenees snow distribution; canopy pruning; terrestrial laser scanner (TLS); Pyrenees
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Revuelto, J.; López-Moreno, J.-I.; Azorin-Molina, C.; Alonso-González, E.; Sanmiguel-Vallelado, A. Small-Scale Effect of Pine Stand Pruning on Snowpack Distribution in the Pyrenees Observed with a Terrestrial Laser Scanner. Forests 2016, 7, 166.

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