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Water Vapor Fluxes from Snow Covered

Landscapes: The Importance of Biotic


and Abiotic-Mediated Processes

Adrian A. Harpold
Natural Resources and Environmental Science
University of Nevada, Reno
CUAHSI Cyberseminar 4/17/2015

Ecohydrological Paradoxes and Tradeoffs


of Water Vapor Fluxes in Snowy Systems
How can snowmelt be both an efficient irrigator of
vegetation and streamflow generation?
Will warming temperatures generate more/less vapor loss?
What are the tradeoffs between canopy interception and
snowpack sublimation?
What are the tradeoffs between abiotic and biotic vapor
losses on overall water budgets?
What can we learn from natural experiments (i.e. forest
disturbance) to answer these questions?

Acknowledgements
Paul Brooks, University of Utah
Joel Biederman, USDA ARS
Patrick Broxton, University of Arizona
John Knowles, University of Colorado
Theo Barnhart, University of Colorado
Noah Molotch, University of Colorado, JPL

Topography, Water, and Carbon Co-vary


1981-2010 Mean Precipitation

S. Rockies

Sierra Nevada

Appalachians

Topography, Water, and Carbon Co-vary


1981-2010
1981-2010Mean
Min Temperature
Precipitation

S. Rockies

Appalachians

Sierra Nevada

Topography, Water, and Carbon Co-vary


1981-2010
1981-2010Mean
Min Temperature
Precipitation

S. Rockies

Appalachians

Sierra Nevada

Kellendorfer et al., 2011, RSE

The Water Balance of SnowDominated Systems


From USFS

Water balance is dynamic


Example: Upper Truckee, CA

Simplified equation
P=ET+Q

30-Year Average

ET
Q

Wet Year
P=155 cm

ET
Q

Dry Year
P=73 cm

ET
Q

The Water Balance of SnowDominated Systems


Water balance is dynamic

Streamflow

Interception

Example: Upper Truckee, CA


Snow
sublimation

More resolved equation:

Storage

P=Esoil+Vinterception+Vsublimation+T+Q+S

How do we partition P into


various stores and fluxes?

Transpiration
Soil evap

Dry Year
P=73 cm

ET
Q

Biotic Water Demand is Changing:


Effects of Forest Fire
Beetle Outbreaks (Meddens et al., 2012)

Year 2000 Fire Regime

Snowmelt Timing
Westerling et al., 2006

Schmidt et al., 2002

Large departure from historical means


Small departure from historical means

Snowpack Dynamics Are Changing:


Changes in AccumulaIon
Change in snow to rain
Nov to March 1949-2004

Mote et al., 2009

Smaller April
1 snowpacks

More
rain,
less
snow

Change SWE
1950-2000
Knowles, 2006, Journal of Climate

Snowpack Dynamics Are Changing:


Changes in AblaIon
Trends over the last 30 years (1980-2010)
Shorter snowmelts (SM50=Ime 50% melt occurs)
Increased sublimaIon (SWE: Winter P raIo)

Harpold et al., 2012, WRR

Paradox/Tradeoff 1: How can


snowmelt be both an efficient
irrigator of vegetation and
streamflow generation?

Snow is a More Efficient Streamflow


Generator Than Rain
Snowy watersheds show a range of ET/P
Snowy watersheds generate more
streamflow when normalized to climate
Under generates
streamflow

Over generates streamflow

Long-term average for


one watershed
(red=snowy, green=rainy)
Berghuijs et al., 2014, Nature CC

Snow is a More Efficient Streamflow


Generator Than Rain. Why?
259 sites, 2100+
station years
Snowmelt is
responsible for peak
soil moisture (PSM)
response across
varying stations
Consequently, soil field
capacity most likely to
be exceeded during
snowmelt

1:1 relationship
between peak soil
moisture and snow
disappearance

Harpold and Molotch, in prep

Snow is a More Efficient Streamflow


Generator Than Rain. Why?
Model results suggest that more rapid
snowmelt generates more streamflow
(less vapor losses)
1100'0"W

400'0"N

450'0"N

1200'0"W

350'0"N

High snow fractions show


range of response

Study Area

High snowmelt rates


efficiently generate
streamflow

350

Barnhart et al., in prep

Kilometers

Snowmelt is an Efficient Irrigator

2007

Snowmelt begins &


NEE increases

NEE umol/m2/s

Snow
SnowDepth
depth cm (cm)

200

100

Maximum annual NEE


occurs at snow
disappearance

NEE (umol/m2/s)

Niwot Ridge
Ameriflux
carbon
measurements
Corresponding
snow depth
Synchronicity
between carbon
uptake and
snow water
availability

50

100

150
Ordinal Day

200

250

Snowmelt is an Efficient Irrigator


Less SWE,
less NEP

Longer growing season


lead to less net ecosystem
productivity (NEP)
Snow water used for
transpiration throughout the
year
GPP (g C m-2 week-1)

Snow derived

Hu et al., 2010, GCB

Rain derived

Paradox/Tradeoff 2: Will warming


temperatures generate more/less
biotic vapor losses?

BioIc Controls: LimitaIons


Most of the snow-
dominated
Western U.S. has
both temperature
and water
limitaIons on
transpiraIon

Boisvenue and Running, 2006; GCB

Biotic Controls: Changes in


Temperature Limitations
Most runoff is generated
at high elevations
Reduced temperature
limitations can increase
ET and decrease runoff
Assumes forests move
up in elevation

Most runoff comes from high elevations

Increased ET w/
warming

Goulden and Bales, 2014, PNAS

Biotic Controls: Importance of


Alpine and Subalpine Area
Spatial distributions matter!
35% of catchment area generates 60% of streamflow
Catchment water balance will depend on how these
ecosystems respond and adapt to warming
temperatures
From niwot.colorado.edu

Knowles, Harpold, et al., (in review), Hydro. Proc.

Paradox/Tradeoff 3: What are the


tradeoffs between canopy
interception and snowpack
sublimation?

Abiotic Controls: Tradeoffs Between


Interception and Snowpack Ablation

Peak SWE to P Ratio


(SWE/P)

Distribution of snow in healthy


forests reflects interception
and sublimation losses

Canopy sublimation

Snowpack sublimation

Canopy cover

Forest Structure Influences on Abiotic


Vapor Losses
1000 m

Lidar shows impacts of


interception and ablation
across mosaic of canopy
structure and topography
Canopy position matters!

100 m

robability%of%Occurrence%

Snow"
Depth"(cm)" Under%Canopy%
200" Near%Canopy%

0.4%
0.3%

Distant

Near canopy

Under canopy

0.2%

Distant%Canopy%
Observed:%Solid%Line%
Modeled:%Dashed%Line%
100"

0.1%
%%%0% 0"

Broxton et al., Ecohydrology, 2015

Predicting Abiotic Vapor Losses: Snow


Physics and Laser Mapping (SnowPALM)

Topography and
canopy structure
parameterized at
1-m resolution
Forced by tower
micrometeorology
Verified with snow
depth at 1-m scale

Broxton et al., Ecohydrology, 2015

PredicIng AbioIc Vapor Losses: Site-Level


Controls
Climate and forest
structure lead to
differing tradeoffs
between interception
and snow sublimation at
each site

Boulder, CO
Snowpack Vapor
Loss (mm)

Jemez, NM
Snowpack Vapor
Loss (mm)

Fraction of Winter P

50%

Jemez, NM
40%

119 166 212 39 65 92

Boulder, CO

Broxton et al., Ecohydrology, 2015

30%

20%

10%

0%
Snow sublimation

Interception

Total vapor losses

Smart Forest Management: Fine-Scale


Canopy Matters For Water Partitioning
Higher resolution leads to different
estimates using the same physics
Characterizing canopy as under or
open is insufficient

Fraction of total V
from sublimation

75%

70%

1000 m
100 m

Boulder Creek

Sublimation
increases 15%

Jemez, NM
Boulder, CO

65%

60%

Jemez River

55%

50%
1 meter

3 meter

10 meter

30 meter

100 meter

Broxton et al.,
Ecohydrology, 2015

Paradox/Tradeoff 4: What are the


tradeoffs between abiotic and biotic
vapor losses in snow dominated
systems?

Tradeoffs In Abiotic and Biotic


Vapor Losses: Forests and Alpine
Response of water budgets depend strongly on
distribution of abiotic and biotic-mediated processes
Changes in runoff generation in alpine areas from
warming could overwhelm changes in subalpine forests
From niwot.colorado.edu

Biotic: less efficient


streamflow generator, more
sensitive to climate

Abiotic: more efficient


streamflow generator,
less sensitive to climate
Knowles, Harpold, et al., (in review), Hydro. Proc.

What can we learn from natural


experiments to answer understand
paradoxes and tradeoffs in vapor
losses from snow-dominated
systems?

Forest Disturbance in the Southern


Rockies: A Natural Experiment
Can we use forest
disturbance to learn
about:
Tradeoffs between
interception and
snowpack
sublimation?
Tradeoffs between
abiotic and biotic
vapor losses?

MPB impacts
Chimney Park, WY

Denver, CO

Impacted study
catchments

Heavy fire impacts


Las Conchas, NM

Hydrologic
Partitioning Anomaly

Effects of Disturbance: Expectations


from Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB)
(weeks)

(months)

(years)

Hypothesis 2: Increased Streamflow


Hypothesis 1: Larger Snowpacks

Transpiration
Interception

Energy Anomaly

Gray Attack

Courtesy: J. Biederman

Radiationsw
Wind

Eects of Disturbance: Model Fidelity


Model experiment using two land-surface models
CLM
Noah

Different total partitioning of vapor losses between models


Sensi&vity to Vegeta&on Change Chimney Park, WY

LAI=1

Water (cm)

600
400

Impacted
LAI=1

Healthy
LAI=4

200
0

LAI=4

Courtesy of D. Gochis, NCAR

CLM4 Noah

Total ET
Soil Evap
CanEvap

CLM4 Noah

Eects of Disturbance: Tradeos Between


IntercepIon and Snowpack SublimaIon
Individual snow event shows evidence of interception
changes following disturbance

New snow event (cm)

20
15
10
5
0

Healthy

Post-fire

Eects of Disturbance: Tradeos Between


IntercepIon and Snowpack SublimaIon
Water"(cm)"

50"

40"

30"

20"

10"

0"

Surprisingly, peak snowpacks did not change after disturbance


April"2011"Snow"Survey"

SWE:P"="74%"
"

Healthy"

2011 POST MPB (survey)

Harpold et al., 2015, Ecohydro.

Winter precipita&on (cm)


April"2011"Snow"Survey"

Peak SWE (cm)


SWE:P"="69%"
"
SWE:P"="74%"
"

30"
20"

40
25
Water (cm)

Water"(cm)"

Biederman et al., 2015, Ecohydro.


SWE:P"="69%"
"

40"

MPB"Die4O"

50"

2012 POST-FIRE (survey)

SWE:P
SWE:P == 67%
56%

Healthy

Pre-Fire
Post-fire

15
20
10
10
5

0"

0
MPB"Die4O"

SWE:P == 62%
68%
SWE:P

20
30

10"

Healthy"

Winter P
Maximum SWE

Winter Vapor Flux/Precipitation


(cm/cm)

Eects of Disturbance: Tradeos Between


IntercepIon and Snowpack SublimaIon
50%

Healthy

MPB die-off

40%
30%
20%
Biederman,
Harpold, et al.,
WRR

10%
0%
2010

2011

2012

Change from sublimation in


canopy (Healthy) to sublimation
of the snowpack (Disturbed)
Energy to snowpack increased
following disturbance

Site

Healthy below/above
NWT Above Canopy
MPB
below/above
Sub-canopy

Wind
Speed
(m/s)

Rsw
(W/m2)

9%

11%

4.112%
(2.4)
0.38 (0.15)

131
(65)
20%
14 (9)

Eects of Disturbance: Tradeos Between


IntercepIon and Snowpack SublimaIon
Post-Fire Forest

Larger snowpack
sublimation postdisturbance
Snowpack sublimation
compensates for lower
interception (total vapor
losses still 30-45%)

Canopy sublimation

Snowpack sublimation
Canopy sublimation

Snowpack
Healthy sublimation
Forest

Summer Vapor Flux/Precipitation


(cm/cm)

Eects of Disturbance: Tradeos


Between AbioIc and BioIc Vapor Losses
80%

Healthy

MPB die-off

70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%

10%
0%
2010

2011

Biederman, Harpold, et al., 2014, WRR

2012

~50% of water budget to summer


vapor loss
Similar cumulative vapor losses in
post-disturbance forest

Effects of Disturbance: Tradeoffs Between


Abiotic and Biotic Vapor Losses
Evidence of
kinetic
fractionation
indicative of
evaporation
ONLY in
disturbed sites
Biederman, Harpold, et al., 2014, WRR

Eects of Disturbance: Tradeos


Between AbioIc and BioIc Vapor Losses
Healthy Q*
MPB die-off Q*

No evidence for increased


streamflow using both
measured streamflow (Q)
and water balance approach
(Q*=P-ET)

Runoff Efficiency (cm/cm)

50%

MPB die-off Q

40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
2010

2011

2012

Biederman, Harpold, et al., 2014, WRR

Eects of Disturbance: Tradeos Between


AbioIc and BioIc Vapor Losses
Tradeoffs between
interception and
snowpack sublimation
Increased energy inputs to
under canopy snowpacks

Potential sources of
growing season vapor
losses:
Greater soil evaporation
Compensation by trees
Recovering vegetation

Remaining forest
Soil evaporation
Regrowth

Tradeoffs in Abiotic and Biotic


Vapor Losses: Disturbed Forests
Eight watersheds in Colorado were investigated
following severe MPB disturbance

Biederman, Harpold, et al., (in review, WRR)

Tradeoffs in Abiotic and Biotic


Vapor Losses: Disturbed Forests
We infer abiotic-mediated vapor losses
mediate decreases in transpiration
using three different methods
Only significant changes
were towards less runoff
following disturbance

Biederman, Harpold, et al., (in review)

Take Home Points


Snowmelt effectively infiltrates the soil profile
thus maximizing storage (for transpiration)
and water subsidies (for runoff)
Tradeoffs between interception and
snowpack sublimation depend strongly on
climate and vegetation structure
In semi-arid climates (i.e. Rocky Mountains)
abiotic-mediated vapor losses are likely
compensating for changes in biotic-mediated
vapor losses following disturbance

Questions and Comments

References

Berghuijs, W. R., Woods, R. A., & Hrachowitz, M. (2014). A precipitation shift from snow towards rain
leads to a decrease in streamflow. Nature Climate Change, 4(7), 583-586.
Hu, J. I. A., Moore, D. J., Burns, S. P., & Monson, R. K. (2010). Longer growing seasons lead to less
carbon sequestration by a subalpine forest. Global Change Biology, 16(2), 771-783.
Goulden, M. L., & Bales, R. C. (2014). Mountain runoff vulnerability to increased evapotranspiration with
vegetation expansion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(39), 14071-14075.
Harpold, A.A. and N.P. Molotch. Timing of snowmelt differentially influences soil moisture response in
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Knowles, J., A.A. Harpold, et al. The relative contributions of alpine and subalpine ecosystems to the
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Biederman, J., P.D. Brooks, A.A. Harpold, D. Gochis, E. Gutman, D. Reed, E. Pendall, & B. Ewers.
(2014) Multi-scale Observations of Snow Accumulation and Peak Snowpack Following Widespread,
Insect-induced Lodgepole Pine Mortality. Ecohydrology. doi:10.1002/eco.1342.
Biederman, J., Somor, A., A.A. Harpold, et al. Streamflow response to insect-driven tree mortality in
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