Implementing the Effects of Changing Landscape by the Recent Bark Beetle Infestation on Snow Accumulation and Ablation to More Accurately Predict Stream Flow in the Upper Little Laramie River, Wyoming watershed.

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Jacob Heward and Noriaki Ohara, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States
In many alpine regions, especially in the western United States, the snow pack is the cause of the peak discharge and most of the annual flow. A distributed snow melt model with a point-scale snow melt theory is used to estimate the timing and intensity of both snow accumulation and ablation. The type and distribution of vegetation across a watershed influences timing and intensity of snow melt processes. Efforts are being made to understand how a changing landscape will ultimately affect stream flow in a mountainous environment. This study includes an analysis of the effects of the recent bark beetle infestation, using leaf area index (LAI) data acquired from MODIS data sets. These changes were incorporated into the snow model to more accurately predict snow melt timing and intensity. It was observed through the primary model implementation that snowmelt was intensified by the LAI reduction. The radiation change and turbulent flux effects were separately quantified by the vegetation parameterization in the snow model. This distributed snow model will be used to more accurately predict stream flow in the Upper Little Laramie River, Wyoming watershed.