Next Article in Journal
Expression Profiling in Pinus pinaster in Response to Infection with the Pine Wood Nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus
Next Article in Special Issue
Climate-Induced Northerly Expansion of Siberian Silkmoth Range
Previous Article in Journal
Tropical-Forest Structure and Biomass Dynamics from TanDEM-X Radar Interferometry
Previous Article in Special Issue
Barriers to the Adoption of Alley Cropping as a Climate-Smart Agriculture Practice: Lessons from Maize Cultivation among the Maya in Southern Belize
Open AccessArticle

Recent Patterns in Climate, Vegetation, and Forest Water Use in California Montane Watersheds

Sierra Nevada Research Institute, University of California, Merced, Merced, CA 95343, USA
Swenson College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN 55812, USA
USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station, Davis, CA 95618, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2017, 8(8), 278;
Received: 12 May 2017 / Revised: 30 June 2017 / Accepted: 29 July 2017 / Published: 1 August 2017
California has recently experienced one of the worst droughts on record, negatively impacting forest ecosystems across the state. As a major source of the region’s water supply, it is important to evaluate the vegetation and water balance response of these montane forested watersheds to climate variability across the range of rain- to snow-dominated precipitation regimes. The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and the Standardized Runoff Index (SRI) were used to capture the hydrologic drought signal, and MODIS vegetation indices (i.e., the normalized difference vegetation index and the enhanced vegetation index) were used to evaluate the vegetation and evapotranspiration response in three headwater catchments. The study catchments comprised a low elevation rain-dominated site (Caspar Creek) on the northern California coast, a mid-elevation site with a mix of rain and snow (Providence Creek) in the California Sierra Nevada, and a high elevation snow-dominated site (Bull Creek) in the Sierra Nevada. Lowest SPI values occurred in the third drought year of 2014 for all sites. Lowest SRI was in 2014 for Caspar, but in 2015 for Providence and Bull, reflecting differences in snowpack-delayed runoff and subsurface storage capacity between the lower and higher elevation watersheds. The most accurate water balance closure using evapotranspiration estimates from vegetation indices was within 10% of measured precipitation at snow-dominated Bull. The rain-dominated Caspar watershed had the highest vegetation index values and annual evapotranspiration, with the lowest variability over the previous 13 years (2004–2016). Vegetation index values and annual evapotranspiration decreased with increasing elevation and snow contribution to precipitation. Both snow-influenced Sierra Nevada watersheds showed elevated vegetation and evapotranspiration responses to interannual climate variability. There remains a need for institutional support to expand long-term observations in remote forested mountain watersheds to monitor and research these changing and extreme environmental conditions in source watershed regions. View Full-Text
Keywords: California; forests; hydrology; headwater; water balance; montane; watershed; climate California; forests; hydrology; headwater; water balance; montane; watershed; climate
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Saksa, P.; Safeeq, M.; Dymond, S. Recent Patterns in Climate, Vegetation, and Forest Water Use in California Montane Watersheds. Forests 2017, 8, 278.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

Search more from Scilit
Back to TopTop