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Effect of subalpine canopy removal on snowpack, soil solution, and nutrient export, Fraser Experimental Forest, CO

Hydrological Processes

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Abstract

Research on the effects of vegetation manipulation on snowpack, soil water, and streamwater chemistry and flux has been underway at the Fraser Experimental Forest (FEF), CO, since 1982. Greater than 95% of FEF snowmelt passes through watersheds as subsurface flow where soil processes significantly alter meltwater chemistry. To better understand the mechanisms accounting for annual variation in watershed streamwater ion concentration and flux with snowmelt, we studied subsurface water flow, its ion concentration, and flux in conterminous forested and clear cut plots. Repetitive patterns in subsurface flow and chemistry were apparent. Control plot subsurface flow chemistry had the highest ion concentrations in late winter and fall. When shallow subsurface flow occurred, its Ca2+, SO42-, and HCO3- concentrations were lower and K+ higher than deep flow. The percentage of Ca2+, NO3-, SO42-, and HCO3- flux in shallow depths was less and K+ slightly greater than the percentage of total flow. Canopy removal increased precipitation reaching the forest floor by about 40%, increased peak snowpack water equivalent (SWE) > 35%, increased the average snowpack Ca2+, NO3-, and NH4+ content, reduced the snowpack K+ content, and increased the runoff four-fold. Clear cutting doubled the percentage of subsurface flow at shallow depths, and increased K+ concentration in shallow subsurface flow and NO3- concentrations in both shallow and deep flow. The percentage change in total Ca2+, SO42-, and HCO3- flux in shallow depths was less than the change in water flux, while that of K+ and NO3- flux was greater. Relative to the control, in the clear cut the percentage of total Ca2+ flux at shallow depths increased from 5 to 12%, SO42- 5.4 to 12%, HCO3- from 5.6 to 8.7%, K+ from 6 to 35%, and NO3- from 2.7 to 17%. The increases in Ca2+ and SO42- flux were proportional to the increase in water flux, the flux of HCO3- increased proportionally less than water flux, and NO3- and K+ were proportionally greater than water flux. Increased subsurface flow accounted for most of the increase in non-limiting nutrient loss. For limiting nutrients, loss of plant uptake and increased shallow subsurface flow accounted for the greater loss. Seasonal ion concentration patterns in streamwater and subsurface flow were similar.Research on the effects of vegetation manipulation on snowpack, soil water, and streamwater chemistry and flux has been underway at the Fraser Experimental Forest (FEF), CO, since 1982. Greater than 95% of FEF snowmelt passes through watersheds as subsurface flow where soil processes significantly alter meltwater chemistry. To better understand the mechanisms accounting for annual variation in watershed streamwater ion concentration and flux with snowmelt, we studied subsurface water flow, its ion concentration, and flux in conterminous forested and clear cut plots. Repetitive patterns in subsurface flow and chemistry were apparent. Control plot subsurface flow chemistry had the highest ion concentrations in late winter and fall. When shallow subsurface flow occurred, its Ca2+, SO42-, and HCO3- concentrations were lower and K+ higher than deep flow. The percentage of Ca2+, NO3-, SO42-, and HCO3- flux in shallow depths was less and K+ slightly greater than the percentage of total flow. Canopy removal increased precipitation reaching the forest floor by about 40%, increased peak snowpack water equivalent (SWE) > 35%, increased the average snowpack Ca2+, NO3-, and NH4+ content, reduced the snowpack K+ content, and increased the runoff four-fold. Clear cutting doubled the percentage of subsurface flow at shallow depths, and increased K+ concentration in shallow subsurface flow and NO3- concentrations in both shallow and deep flow. The percentage change in total Ca2+, SO42-, and HCO3- flux in shallow depths was less than the change in water flux, while that of K+ and NO3- flux was greater. Relative to the control, in the clear cut the percentage of total Ca

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Effect of subalpine canopy removal on snowpack, soil solution, and nutrient export, Fraser Experimental Forest, CO
Series title:
Hydrological Processes
Volume
13
Issue:
14-15
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Publisher location:
Chichester, United Kingdom
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Hydrological Processes
First page:
2287
Last page:
2299