Event Title

A Simple Framework for Assessing the Sensitivity of Mountain Watersheds to Warming-Driven Snowpack Loss

Location

Eccles Conference Center Auditorium

Event Website

http://water.usu.edu

Start Date

3-31-2015 2:10 AM

End Date

3-31-2015 2:20 AM

Description

The common observation that snowpack increases with elevation suggests that a catchment’s elevation distribution should be a robust indicator of its potential to store snow and its sensitivity to warming-based snowpack loss. To capture a wide range of potential elevation-based responses, we used Monte Carlo methods to simulate 20,000 watershed elevation distributions. We applied a simple function relating warming, elevation, and snowpack to explore snowpack losses from the simulated elevation distributions. Regression analyses demonstrate that snowpack loss is best described by three parameters that identify the central tendency, variance, and shape of each catchment’s elevation distribution. Equal amounts of snowpack loss can occur even when catchments are centered within different elevation zones and stresses the value of also measuring the variance and shape of elevation distributions. Watersheds located in mid-elevations with small variance in elevation are particularly sensitive to warming and snowpack loss. Landscape-scale patterns of simulated snowpack loss are non-linear and emphasize that the sensitivity of mountain forest to warming will likely be watershed-dependent.

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Mar 31st, 2:10 AM Mar 31st, 2:20 AM

A Simple Framework for Assessing the Sensitivity of Mountain Watersheds to Warming-Driven Snowpack Loss

Eccles Conference Center Auditorium

The common observation that snowpack increases with elevation suggests that a catchment’s elevation distribution should be a robust indicator of its potential to store snow and its sensitivity to warming-based snowpack loss. To capture a wide range of potential elevation-based responses, we used Monte Carlo methods to simulate 20,000 watershed elevation distributions. We applied a simple function relating warming, elevation, and snowpack to explore snowpack losses from the simulated elevation distributions. Regression analyses demonstrate that snowpack loss is best described by three parameters that identify the central tendency, variance, and shape of each catchment’s elevation distribution. Equal amounts of snowpack loss can occur even when catchments are centered within different elevation zones and stresses the value of also measuring the variance and shape of elevation distributions. Watersheds located in mid-elevations with small variance in elevation are particularly sensitive to warming and snowpack loss. Landscape-scale patterns of simulated snowpack loss are non-linear and emphasize that the sensitivity of mountain forest to warming will likely be watershed-dependent.

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/runoff/2015/2015Posters/2