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Article

Forest Fires Reduce Snow-Water Storage and Advance the Timing of Snowmelt across the Western U.S.

1
Department of Geology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225, USA
2
Department of Environmental Science and Management, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97201, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Juraj Parajka
Water 2021, 13(24), 3533; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243533
Received: 14 November 2021 / Revised: 7 December 2021 / Accepted: 8 December 2021 / Published: 10 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
As climate warms, snow-water storage is decreasing while forest fires are increasing in extent, frequency, and duration. The majority of forest fires occur in the seasonal snow zone across the western US. Yet, we do not understand the broad-scale variability of forest fire effects on snow-water storage and water resource availability. Using pre- and post-fire data from 78 burned SNOTEL stations, we evaluated post-fire shifts in snow accumulation (snow-water storage) and snowmelt across the West and Alaska. For a decade following fire, maximum snow-water storage decreased by over 30 mm, and the snow disappearance date advanced by 9 days, and in high severity burned forests snowmelt rate increased by 3 mm/day. Regionally, forest fires reduced snow-water storage in Alaska, Arizona, and the Pacific Northwest and advanced the snow disappearance date across the Rockies, Western Interior, Wasatch, and Uinta mountains. Broad-scale empirical results of forest fire effects on snow-water storage and snowmelt inform natural resource management and modeling of future snow-water resource availability in burned watersheds. View Full-Text
Keywords: snow; forest fire; snow-water storage; snowmelt; snow water equivalent; snow disappearance date; snowmelt rate snow; forest fire; snow-water storage; snowmelt; snow water equivalent; snow disappearance date; snowmelt rate
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MDPI and ACS Style

Smoot, E.E.; Gleason, K.E. Forest Fires Reduce Snow-Water Storage and Advance the Timing of Snowmelt across the Western U.S. Water 2021, 13, 3533. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243533

AMA Style

Smoot EE, Gleason KE. Forest Fires Reduce Snow-Water Storage and Advance the Timing of Snowmelt across the Western U.S. Water. 2021; 13(24):3533. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243533

Chicago/Turabian Style

Smoot, Emily E., and Kelly E. Gleason. 2021. "Forest Fires Reduce Snow-Water Storage and Advance the Timing of Snowmelt across the Western U.S." Water 13, no. 24: 3533. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243533

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