Event Title

Effects of Bark Beetle Attacks on Snowpack and Snow Avalanche Hazard

Location

USU Eccles Conference Center

Abstract

Unprecedented bark beetle outbreaks across western North America have killed millions of trees, which profoundly affects snowpack in high elevation forests. Bark beetle outbreaks quickly change composition, structure, and functions of forests and may alter their protective effects against snow avalanches. We examined the snowpack under canopies of Engelmann spruce forest stands in the Uinta Mountains in Utah, USA, using a snow micro penetrometer (SMP). Biweekly-repeated SMP measurements along 20 m transects were recorded in winter 2016 in study plots beneath canopies of recently infested trees, trees 3+-years after bark beetle infestation, a harvested forest stand, and a non-forested meadow. We describe the evolution of the snowpack at our study plots with two-dimensional snow density profiles, which we derived from high-resolution spatio-temporal SMP data. Considering changes in snowpack properties following bark beetle attack is important for road safety, winter backcountry activities, avalanche forecasting, and ski resort and protection forest management.

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Oct 19th, 5:20 PM Oct 19th, 5:25 PM

Effects of Bark Beetle Attacks on Snowpack and Snow Avalanche Hazard

USU Eccles Conference Center

Unprecedented bark beetle outbreaks across western North America have killed millions of trees, which profoundly affects snowpack in high elevation forests. Bark beetle outbreaks quickly change composition, structure, and functions of forests and may alter their protective effects against snow avalanches. We examined the snowpack under canopies of Engelmann spruce forest stands in the Uinta Mountains in Utah, USA, using a snow micro penetrometer (SMP). Biweekly-repeated SMP measurements along 20 m transects were recorded in winter 2016 in study plots beneath canopies of recently infested trees, trees 3+-years after bark beetle infestation, a harvested forest stand, and a non-forested meadow. We describe the evolution of the snowpack at our study plots with two-dimensional snow density profiles, which we derived from high-resolution spatio-temporal SMP data. Considering changes in snowpack properties following bark beetle attack is important for road safety, winter backcountry activities, avalanche forecasting, and ski resort and protection forest management.