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A model for the hydrological cycle of a forested catchment and assessment of the changes caused in water balance by cuttings

Kuchment, L. S., Gelfan, A. N., Demidov, V. N.
Contemporary problems of ecology 2013 v.6 no.7 pp. 770-778
cutting, evaporation, forests, hydrologic cycle, leaf area index, melting, models, runoff, snow, snowpack, soil water, spring, sublimation, trees, water balance, watersheds
A physicomathematical model of the hydrological cycle in a forested catchment was constructed. This model describes the interception of liquid and solid precipitation by tree crowns; snow accumulation and melting; vertical transfer of moisture in soil and its evaporation; and surface, subsurface, and channeled runoffs. The model was calibrated and verified using the observation data for the completely forested Taezhnyi catchment within the area of the Valdai Water Balance Station. Then the model was used to assess possible changes in the hydrological cycle after clear cuttings in this catchment. The values of model parameters were compared to the corresponding soil characteristics in the adjacent treeless (field) Usad’evskii catchment. Modeling results demonstrate that the average water reserve in the snow cover before melting can increase by 15% after forest cutting in the Taezhnyi catchment. The losses for snow sublimation are reduced almost two-fold. The snow melting intensity increases by 30% and its duration decreases by 10 days. The annual runoff after cutting increases by 7–10%; however, the seasonal distribution of the runoff and the constituents of the water balance change to a greater degree. During spring flood, the maximal water discharge in the forested catchment is 50% smaller than after forest cutting. The duration of spring flood after cutting is reduced by 5–7 days. The changes in the hydrological cycle depending on the age-related alteration in leaf area index were also studied.