Snowpack peak water equivalent (PWE), ion concentration, content, and spatial distribution of ion load data from spring 1987-1996 in a 1 ha clearcut and adjacent forested plots vegetated by mature Picea engelmannii and Abies lasiocarpa in the Fraser experimental forest (FEF), Colorado are presented. Our objectives were: (1) to see if a forest opening might redistribute snowfall, snowpack moisture, and snowpack chemical content, and (2) to examine the importance of canopy interception on snowpack quantity and chemistry. On an average, the canopy intercepted 36% of snowfall. Interception was correlated with snowfall amount, snowpack PWE beneath the canopy, and air temperature. Canopy removal increased snowpack PWE to >90% cumulative snowfall inputs. Snowpack K-, H-, and NH4+ concentrations on the clearcut were lower and NO3- higher than in the snowpack beneath the forested plots. Cu mulative snowfall K+ input was less than in the clearcut snowpack; H+ inputs were greater in snowfall than in the snowpack of any plot; and inorganic N (NO3- and NH4+) inputs from snowfall to the clearcut were greater than to the forested plots. Processes accounting for the differences between snowfall inputs and snowpack ion content were leaching of organic debris in the snowpack, differential elution of the snowpack, and canopy retention. There were significant trends by year in snowpack ion content at PWE without similar trends in snowfall inputs. This finding coupled with snowpack ion elution bring into question the use of snowpack chemistry as an indicator of winter atmospheric inputs in short-term studies. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.
Additional publication details
Effect of canopy removal on snowpack quantity and quality, fraser experimental forest, Colorado