Radiation is the major driver of snowmelt, and, hence, its estimation is critically important. Net radiation reaching the forest floor is influenced by vegetation density. Previous studies in mid-latitude conifer forests have confirmed that net radiation decreases and then subsequently increases with increasing vegetation density, for clear sky conditions. This leads to the existence of a net radiation minimum at an intermediate vegetation density. With increasing cloud cover, the minimum radiation shifts toward lower densities, sometimes resulting in a monotonically increasing radiation with vegetation density. The net radiation trend, however, is expected to change across sites, affecting the magnitude and timing of individual radiation components. This research explores the variability of net radiation on a snow-covered forest floor for different vegetation densities along a latitudinal gradient. We especially investigate how the magnitude of minimum/maximum radiation and the corresponding vegetation density change with the site geographical location. To evaluate these, the net radiation is evaluated using the Forest Radiation Model at six different locations in predominantly white spruce (Picea glauca
) canopy cover across North America, ranging from 45 to 66° N latitudes. Results show that the variation of net radiation with vegetation density considerably varies with latitude. In higher latitude forests, the magnitude of net radiation is generally smaller, and the minimum radiation is exhibited at relatively sparser vegetation densities, under clear sky conditions. For interspersed cloudy sky conditions, net radiation non-monotonically varies with latitude across the sites, depending on the seasonal sky cloudiness and air temperature. The latitudinal sensitivity of net radiation is lower on north-facing hillslopes than on south-facing sites.
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